The Feastie Blog

Feastie Friday: 13 Slow Cookers Recipes That Do the Work For You

While cooking can be fun, relaxing, and rewarding, on those nights you come home late from work and are faced with the decision of "What do I eat for dinner?" cooking may very well be the last thing you want to do. To the extent that an easy 30 minute dinner may take 29 minutes longer than you actually want it to. So, what are your options? Drive-thru, pizza, take-out or delivery, or something crusted in ice crystals from the back of the freezer are your easiest options. UNLESS - you've let your slow cooker or crock pot make dinner for you. Sure you have to throw in a few ingredients in the morning before work, but coming home to the lovely aroma of slow-cooked pork or lasagna is well worth the extra few minutes you'd need to invest that morning. We've rounded up 13 slow cooker and crock pot recipes that do the work for you - literally make you dinner. So much better than a greasy take-out bag or a gloppy frozen dinner. 

1. Crock Pot Lentil Sweet Potato Soup from Eat, Live, Run
Crock Pot Lentil Sweet Potato Soup from Eat, Live, Run
Photo from Eat, Live, Run

 

Tomato Rosemary Focaccia

Even though summer is officially over, I have a few more summery recipes to share with you guys. This summer tomato focaccia from The View from Great Island caught my eye when I was looking for a way to use up the mass quantities of mini heirloom tomatoes I'd picked up from a local farm market. While this recipe is best with perfectly ripe, juicy, sweet summer tomatoes, using a pint of grocery store cherry tomatoes wouldn't be the end of the world. Because the tomatoes bake with the olive oil, salt, and rosemary in this recipe, the baking process will bring out a bit of their sweetness and soften them up. But, yes, it is best (stellar!) with fresh summer tomatoes. If you're not an experienced bread baker, don't be alarmed by the yeast - I'm still hesitant with yeasted breads, but this recipe is foolproof. As long as you have active yeast (i.e. it hasn't been sitting in the cupboard for years past its expiration date), you should be fine. I'd like to say I served this focaccia with some healthy dinner or something, but I didn't - we just ate it. As in, it's so good, you just sort of pick it up, eat it, and savor it. But of course it would be ideal with a salad or light dinner of some sort. 

Feastie Friday: 19 Creative Recipes for Vegan Ice Cream

Only two more days until fall officially begins - that means there are 2 days left of summer. So while we certainly encourage you to eat ice cream all year round, it would be criminal if you didn't enjoy at least one more cone or cup of ice cream before the summer is over! We mean ice cream for everyone. Vegans - we're with you. We've got you covered. Today we've rounded up 19 creative vegan ice cream recipes for you to try. Even if you're a dairy fiend, you should give these a try - you'll be pleasantly surprised at how delicious a non-dairy vegan ice cream can really be. Everything from almond milk to coconut milk, bananas and peanut butter to cashews - there are so many incredibly creative bloggers whipping up these amazing vegan ice creams. So do it - make a batch of vegan ice cream, sit in the sun, and enjoy your last cone of the summer.  

1. Caramel-Pecan Chocolate Ripple Ice Cream from Kitchen Simplicity
Caramel-Pecan Chocolate Ripple Ice Cream (Dairy Free) from Kitchen Simplicity
Photo from Kitchen Simplicity

 

Spicy Buttermilk Oven-Fried Chicken

So right off the bat let's just say that this is NOT fried chicken. Nothing tastes like fried chicken, nothing has that "crunch" and the crackling of fried chicken skin when you bite into it except for the real deal - if you're looking for an exact copy of fried chicken but without the fat/calories, you're barking up the wrong tree. That said - if you're looking for a healthier, lighter alternative to fried chicken, something that you can eat without any guilt (or greasy napkins) on a regular basis and feel good about, then you've come to the right place. And not a cornflake in sight!! Because this spicy oven-fried chicken adapted from an Epicurious recipe is awesome. It does have a light crunch, it's just a teensy bit spicy, and it has a nice fried-ish breaded feeling - but there's barely any added fat. Another big plus - I used boneless/skinless chicken thighs for this recipe, so there's no bones to worry about, no chicken skin to hem and haw over (because we all know the chicken tastes better with the skin on, but it's not exactly health food), and it cooks really quickly. We don't eat chicken very often - I definitely enjoy turkey burgers on a regular basis, but handling raw meat like chicken kind of weirds me out. I know, I know, it's silly (and no, the ground meat doesn't bother me as much), but everyone has their "thing" and that's one of mine (one of the MANY!). In any case, this chicken came about after I requested some recipe inspiration from Facebook friends. I asked if there were any requests - and I got two requests for "oven-fried chicken without any cornflakes". So I set out on a mission to make this happen, and voila! It did. I served this alongside a spinach salad with fresh peaches, gorgonzola, and sliced almonds, and it was a wonderful, healthy, filling end-of-summer dinner. The chicken is great as leftovers, too - slice or chop it up to go on salads, eat cold, layer on a sandwich, etc. I hope you enjoy this as much as The Mr. and I did - and I hope all of my Facebook friends are satisfied with this cornflake-less chicken recipe! 

Feastie Friday: 21 Crazy Easy Weekday Breakfasts

We know, we know - you don't have time for breakfast, right? Mornings are crazy busy - we get it - but that's still no excuse for skipping breakfast. While you may not have time for a full-blown sit-down breakfast every day, you can still grab something healthy and delish on your way out the door. You are not relegated to cold cereal! We're talking hot breakfasts - breakfast sandwiches with egg and cheese, baked oatmeal full of fruit, on-the-go oatmeal in jars, etc. While they do require a little bit of prep time (not much, we promise), these 21 crazy easy weekday breakfasts are worth the prep time, as they'll save you precious minutes in the morning. Whether you toss a muffin or breakfast cookie in your bag before heading out, or toast up a freezer waffle (YES! Waffles!) and slather it with peanut butter, or even reheat a breakfast burrito full of savory eggs, cheese, and veggies, eating a healthy homemade breakfast will do wonders for your energy level, your metabolism, and your productivity. Why wait in line at Starbucks for a stale breakfast sandwich that will set you back $5 when you can make your own for a fraction of the price (and without the freaky preservatives or weird ingredients)? Don't skip breakfast - try some of these awesome make-ahead breakfasts and never worry about the morning rush again. 

1. Healthy Whole Grain Freezer Waffles from My Green Diet
healthy whole grain freezer waffles from My Green Diet
Photo from My Green Diet

 

Healthy Vegan Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Don't say I didn't give you fair warning: these are highly, highly addictive. As in, if you like peanut butter cups, you'll be obsessed with them. And chances are, even if you like peanut butter cups but don't like coconut oil (like The Mr.), you'll still be obsessed with them. I made a triple batch of these and between The Mr., a few friends, and myself (me? myself? grammar fiends chime in) they were obliterated in 2 days. Like you can't eat just one. Or two or even three - they're the kind of treat you keep going back to the freezer for, to sneak just one more bite. Adapted from this amazing Oh She Glows recipe for raw almond butter cups, these healthy (yes, healthy - no refined sugar, no dairy, no butter, and full of healthy, wholesome ingredients) vegan salted chocolate peanut butter cups (is that the best combination of words EVER or is it just me?!) are mind-blowingly delicious. And they're freakishly simple - quick and easy, no-bake (just a quick stint in the freezer), and made with pantry and fridge staples. I know I'm always really enthusiastic about recipes on here, and I'm a fan of hyperbole, but if you've got these ingredients in your house right now, just make these and thank me later. Because I promise you, you will thank me. 

Feastie Friday: 19 Healthier Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Junk Foods

You're eating healthy, you're exercising, you're eating those fruits and veggies and whole grains and healthy fats - no room for junk food, right? Processed chips, cookies, and baked goods and greasy pizzas, burgers, and hot dogs are definitely not on anyone's list of healthy foods you should be eating regularly. Sure there's something to be said about "everything in moderation" - but what if you could just make healthier versions of your favorite junk foods at home and enjoy them completely guilt-free? Sure your homemade Oreo may not taste exactly like the store-bought version - but it will most likely taste even better, and you can ensure that it's made with wholesome, real ingredients instead of chemicals and ingredients you can't pronounce. We're not advocating a complete departure from the land of junk food - everyone needs a slice of greasy pizza now and then (at least we do) - but we do encourage you to try these 19 healthier homemade versions of your favorite junk foods. Peanut butter cups aren't a healthy daily indulgence - but a raw, homemade nut butter cup is a great alternative! And we can speak from experience on this one - they're just as satisfying and delicious as the real deal. So the next time you're craving those chips, french fries, cookies or candy, bring along your shopping list and make sure you buy the ingredients for making your own version at home. And if you're interested, try your hand at homemade candy or homemade Hostess treats!

1. Homemade Cool Ranch Doritos from Carpe Season
Homemade Cool Ranch Doritos: Guilty-Pleasure Food Week from Carpe Season
Photo from Carpe Season

 

Peach and Strawberry Buttermilk Mini Cakes

I'm in peach heaven right now. But seriously - I know I just posted a peach recipe, but I've got more peaches. I had a bit of a peach revelation this summer - you see I've never really been a huge fan of peaches. For some reason I always end up with mealy, squishy, overripe peaches that aren't even remotely sweet or appetizing. So I'd pretty much thrown in the towel as far as peaches were concerned - I figured I just didn't like them. Then this summer, after saving dozens of peach recipes on Feastie, I decided to give them another go. Instead of getting them from the grocery store like I had in the past, I bought some from a farm stand - freshly-picked, local peaches. And I ended my peach drought - this was incredible fruit. So good that I went back last week for more - now I can't get enough. So with my newly discovered peach fetish I thought I'd try out another sweet recipe - this time peach buttermilk mini cakes from Savory Simple. By the way - if you haven't already checked out Jennifer's blog, do it! She posts the most creative yet elegantly simple recipes made with fresh seasonal ingredients - you can't go wrong with any of her recipes. She's never led me astray, and these little peach buttermilk cakes were no exception. Since I ran out of peaches (okay so maybe I ate one as I was baking - whatever), I used some fresh strawberries in place of the peaches on some of the cakes. Delish. These are great little desserts, perfect for portion control. They're not too sweet, but the baked fruit gets nice and soft and sweet on the tops of the little cakes. Make these now with whatever fruit you have on hand, and enjoy the last of the amazing summer fruit. 

Feastie Friday: 11 Sweet Treats Without Refined Sugar

If you have a sweet tooth but are trying to avoid refined sugar, you're in luck - there are so many creative bloggers out there whipping up creative sweet treats with no granulated sugar in sight. Sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, stevia, xylitol, even coconut sugar are showing up in cookies, cakes, ice cream, and pretty much any other sweet you can think of. We've rounded up 11 sweet treats without refined sugar - fun recipes you can recreate and enjoy at home. So put that granulated sugar back in the pantry and try one of these sweet treats.

1. Black Bean Fudge Cookies from Cooking ala Mel
Black Bean Fudge Cookies (Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free) from Cooking ala Mel
Photo from Cooking ala Mel

 

Peach Crisp {Lightened Up}

In general, I am not a huge fan of peaches. Whenever I buy peaches from the grocery store I end up with mealy, gloppy, bland peaches. But lately I've been seeing so many peach recipes that my head is literally spinning. Peach pie, peach jam, grilled peaches, peach cocktails, peach everything! So I figured I was doing something wrong - maybe buying peaches from a local grocery store is a bad idea? In any case, I set out to find some REAL peaches, ripe, perfect peaches that would make me a peach lover at long last. I found an amazing little farm market near my house that promised me that yes, their peaches were fresh, and ripe, and not at all mealy. And I decided to take a chance and I bought a few pounds. Now I just had to decide what to make with them. I figured I'd take it easy and just make a peach crisp - you can't go wrong with a fruit crisp, right?! Blueberry crisp and apple crisp (and apple cranberry crisp, of course) are two of my very favorite desserts - surely these perfectly ripe peaches would make a fine crisp. So I kind of winged it - I kept it simple, in the hopes that the peaches would do their thing and I'd end up with a perfectly sweet dessert. Guess what? Total score. This peach crisp is amazing. Like I can't wait to make it again - with perfect farm stand peaches, of course. The key here is simplicity - just a little bit of sugar and lemon juice/zest to bring out the sweetness of the peaches, and a nutty, buttery, crunchy crisp topping that browns up perfectly in a mere 25 minutes of baking time. And with a mere 2 tablespoons of butter and a bit of canola oil it's a lot lighter than most crisps, some of which call for up to a stick of butter. In other words, it's perfectly acceptable to eat this for breakfast. 

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Will blog for food.
The Founder of Feastie.