Sweet Potato Pie Pancakes with Marshmallow Sauce

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My grandmother makes the best sweet potato pie casserole. It’s a holiday staple in our family.

What could be better than mashed sweet potatoes, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, butter and sugar?

Oh, that’s right.

Maybe it’s the melted marshmallows on top…

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I woke up this morning craving something sweet and comforting in this cold, yucky weather.  I always love pancakes for brunch on the weekends, but I didn’t want just plain pancakes. You could probably tell from my Cream Cheese and Nutella Pancakes and my Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Fresh Blueberry Sauce that I love rich, decadent pancakes.

 I knew I wanted something rich, sweet and comforting. I just wasn’t sure what exactly.

And then my grandmother texted me.

And then a brilliant idea popped into my head.

Why don’t I make sweet potato pie pancakes?

And sweet potato pancakes wouldn’t be the same without my favorite part, the melted marshmallows on top.

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So I topped the pancakes with marshmallows and placed them under the broiler.

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But naturally I couldn’t stop there. So I made a marshmallow sauce.

 At every holiday dinner my family gets mad at me because I always eat all of the marshmallows off the top of the sweet potatoes.

It’s better than eating them out of the trash can though, right?

Yep, that really happened.

 My stepdad caught me eating stale marshmallows out of the trash can when I was a kid.

Oops.

And so I created this masterpiece (with fresh marshmallows, of course!)

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Apple, Cinnamon and Walnut Baked Oatmeal with Date Caramel Sauce {healthy, delicious and the perfect grab and go breakfast or guilt-free dessert}

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I think I’ve hit an all time low.

Those of you who know me well probably know I’ve dabbled in online dating for some time. Sure, I’ve had some successes with online dating in the past. The last two men I’ve met on a dating website have been two out of three of my longest and most-serious relationships. They’ve taught me a lot about who I am and what I’m looking for in a relationship partner.

Except for recently. My dates have been a complete nightmare.

For example, the last guy I went out on a date with professed his love for me on the first (and only) date.

And when I didn’t respond to his 34 back-to-back text messages comparing our love to Romeo and Juliet, he managed to use his police officer capabilities to find my address so he could come to my house to make sure I wasn’t dead.

I’m not kidding.

And last night I realized that I have subconsciously given up on online dating.

Because instead of reading my matches’ profiles and perusing their many photos with beer cans and cropped out ex-girlfriends, I’ve been looking at their job titles.

And not in the “I wonder if he makes good money” sort-of way.

More in the, “oh, he’s a Graphic Designer. I wonder if he could be a fit for the job I’m recruiting on” sort-of way.

I have officially started recruiting my matches.

I’m convinced I am moving one step closer towards being a cat lady. Or maybe work has taken over my life. Or maybe online dating is the new LinkedIn for recruiting?

Or maybe I’m just still trying to find that needle in a haystack.

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Yeah, we’ll just go with that for now.

So until I find that needle I’ll just keep making delicious recipes to share with the World.

I made for you Apple, Cinnamon and Walnut Baked Oatmeal with a Date Caramel Sauce. It’s incredibly easy to make and you can make a batch earlier in the week and have a slice for breakfast each morning. Or you can turn it into a healthy apple pie and have it for dessert.

Or you can have it for breakfast AND dessert.

And the best part? It’s guilt-free. And doesn’t come with stalking.

Top the oatmeal with a guilt-free caramel sauce, made from just 4 ingredients and NO sugar.

I think I just found my Romeo.

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No-Bake Banana Chia Pudding Pie {healthy, guilt-free and gluten-free}

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I have to be honest with you…

I think I may enjoy baking more than cooking.

I know, I know…I can’t believe I’m admitting to this because I love all things food.

But I CONSTANTLY crave baked goods, especially this time of the year when bikini weather is no more.

So who’s taking me on a vacation?

And since these cravings aren’t going anywhere, and I’m not gaining self-control anytime soon and am planning on bombarding you with TONS of unhealthy delicious fall recipes I’ve come up with, I decided to experiment with a healthy pie recipe.  And I succeeded.

I perfected a pie crust that’s healthy, dairy-free, gluten-free and is made without flour, butter, oils and added sugars. And a filling that’s good for you AND delicious at the same time.

Unfortunately, it was so delicious that I couldn’t just have one slice.

So I ate the whole thing.

Oops.

Sorry I’m not sorry.

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Dark Chocolate Banana Bread Protein Muffins {healthy, guilt-free, gluten-free, and protein-packed}

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I’m back!

I know it has been a while since my last post but I’ve been having one of those quarter-life crisis moments. You know, the one where you have no clue where your life is going or what your purpose is but all you know is you’re craving an adventure and in need of some soul-searching and you’re having one of those Eat Pray Love or Into the Wild moments where you just want to leave everything  you know and travel the world and find yourself. Have you ever had one of those moments?

Well, needless to say, I definitely had one of those moments this week and I’m so glad I did. I feel like I can take on the World right now. I finally feel like there are so many great things coming my way and so much to look forward to and sometimes all you need is a little kick in the behind to help you get you there.

And while I was having one of those Into the Wild moments, I created a delicious mistake. Well, not really a mistake because it’s one of the best muffins I’ve ever had. But who would’ve thought that when you run out of coconut flour you can use protein powder and you get THE SAME end result, if not better?!

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These muffins are just like banana bread;  moist in the center, full of banana flavor and not to mention loaded with gooey dark chocolate. And because they’re made with all natural plant-based protein powder, these can be enjoyed before or after the gym for a guilt-free energy boost or just a snack throughout the day!  These also have to be some of the healthiest banana bread muffins you’ll ever have because there’s nothing bad in them! Unless you count the dark chocolate, but please, we all know a little chocolate full of antioxidants never hurt anyone! Please do yourself a favor and go makes these. NOW!

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Monday Morning Green Vegan Detox Smoothie

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After a weekend of good food, good wine and lot’s of recipe experimenting (and tasting), I find the best way to start my week is with a little detox. No, I’m not talking about a crazy week-long juice cleanse, but just a healthy, refreshing breakfast smoothie, packed with vitamins, potassium, antioxidants, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. And the best part about it? It tastes SO good you’d never know it was so good for you!

What’s in this smoothie?

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Banana– one of the best sources of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining healthy heart function and blood pressure.
PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter– the same taste of my ultimate favorite snack with 85% less fat calories than regular peanut butter.
Chia Seeds– known for its richness in omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber. Don’t worry- you won’t grow green hair 🙂
Spinach– high in nutritional value and rich in antioxidants (high in vitamins, calcium and fiber)
Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk– with only 30 calories per serving  and 50% more calcium than regular milk, Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk is a healthy, non-dairy solution (and it’s gluten-free too!)

You can also add other fruits too, such as blueberries and strawberries, or even some protein powder to help you keep fuller, longer.

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Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Fresh Blueberry Sauce {Hello Saturday, I love you}

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Hello Saturday, I love you.

I have been craving this day like a cup of coffee when my alarm goes off at 6:30 am on a Monday morning. Like water after a 6 mile run. Like french fries after eating salads for a week straight. Like peanut butter…every day. Like sleep after five days in Vegas.

OK, you get the point. But I’m really so happy it’s Saturday!

I don’t know about you but my breakfasts are always so rushed during the week and I look forward to the weekends when I can actually spend some time making a delicious breakfast. When I can actually sit down and enjoy every bite, rather than having to scarf it down, chug a cup of coffee and run out the door with coffee dripping down my shirt and spinach from my eggs stuck in my teeth as I try and juggle my gym bag, laptop bag, purse, lunch bag and coffee mug all at the same time. Then realizing I don’t have my keys, and they’re not where I usually put them on the counter and they’re not in my purse so where are they?! Is it just me or does anyone else have this problem in the morning? There’s nothing like the Valet guy at work telling you as you get out of your car that you have something stuck in your teeth and having to quickly come up with a whitty reponse like ” just savin’ it for later”. Yes, this happened to me this past week and it was super awkward. But definitely not as awkward as your skirt flying up right in front of all the valet guys when it’s laundry day and all you have left is a pair of underwear with ducks on them…

Regardless. It is Saturday! And finally there’s not a cloud in the sky and the temperature will be in the high 70’s. I really thought the rain would never stop this week. And what a better way to welcome a gorgeous weekend than to start it off with some lemon ricotta pancakes with a fresh blueberry sauce. The ricotta adds a fluffiness to the pancakes and the lemon adds a refreshing bite that makes them the perfect breakfast on a Saturday morning that doesn’t leave you feeling weighed down and dreading the next time you have to put a bikini on. And the fresh blueberry sauce brings all of the flavors together. Hey, it may not be my Nutella sauce, but it will sure leave you feeling satisfied, refreshed, and ready to take on this gorgeous day. And the best part? It won’t leave spinach in your teeth!

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Cream Cheese and Nutella Pancakes {the best pancakes you’ll ever have, inspired by Valencia Luncheria}

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Yes, that’s right…Cream Cheese and Nutella. All in one bite. All in one pancake.

This morning I made the best pancakes I’ve ever had. And I just had to share it with you right away!

These pancakes are inspired by one of my favorite treats at a restaurant down the street from me in Norwalk, CT called Valencia Luncheria.

Valencia is known for their arepas and empanadas. I actually first came across this place the night I moved into my current apartment in Norwalk, CT. I had just sat down after moving all day and turned on the TV to, what else of course, Food Network. Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives was on and Guy happened to be at this place in Norwalk. What a coincidence! I knew after watching the episode that I just had to go. And the next morning that’s exactly where I ended up. Less than half a mile away to the best thing that has happened to me since moving here, Valencia Luncheria.

When you walk into Valencia you feel like you’re stepping off of the beach. Leading up to the restaurant is a sand-covered pathway and tiki torches that make you want to put on a Hawaiian skirt and do the hula. Well, maybe that’s just me. But I really would have because that’s how happy I always am after leaving this place. The decor is very similar to the theme of the restaurant, Venezuelan beach food.

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Valencia is known for their arepas. In case you’re not familiar with an arepa, it is basically a fried open-faced corn cake that can be filled with just about any combination. My favorite combinations are the “Real Deal” which is chorizo and mozzarella and I also love the “Chef “which is chipotle jalapeno cheese steak (Philly represent, what what). Their guacamole is also to die for along with their super fresh ceviche. However, Saturday and Sunday mornings are the absolute best time to check out Valencia because that’s when they have their Bloody Mary bar! Oh my goodness. They have four different kinds of tomato mixtures you can choose from, from mild to Italian to spicy, and they also have just about everything imaginable you can put into your Bloody Mary, from bacon on a stick (my fav), to sweet potatoes, olives, pickles, blocks of cheddar cheese, shrimp…just about anything! It’s truly a reason in itself to drag yourself out of bed early on a Saturday or Sunday morning. And they also make this ridiculous green secret sauce they bring out to every table. They won’t tell you what’s in it but all I can tell you is it’s creamy like an avocado, it has a kick of garlic, there’s definitely cilantro and one day it may accidentally end up falling into my purse…just saying!

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But, what I haven’t told you about yet is my absolute FAVORITE thing on their menu. Their cream cheese and Nutella empanada. A perfect combination of cream cheese and Nutella, fried in an empanada and sprinkled with powdered sugar. I usually can only get through a couple of bites at this point of the meal but I make it happen and I am always SO glad I do. And this cream cheese and Nutella empanada is exactly what inspired me to make these pancakes.

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The key to these pancakes is to stick the cream cheese in the freezer the night before. This will ensure you actually get chunks of cream cheese in every bite. Otherwise I have found if not frozen, the cream cheese will bake into the pancake and you won’t get the oozy-goodness chunks of cream cheese in each and every bite.

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And the Nutella topping adds a richness that when paired with the cream cheese, just like in the empanadas, is a crazy good mouthful that makes you keep wanting more. So good, you won’t be able to stop eating. The entire stack. Like I did. And for added texture, I sprinkled chopped walnuts on top for a nice crunch. You can use any nut you prefer, but walnuts were all I had. Make this for your boyfriend, girlfriend, mom, dad, aunt, uncle, cousin, brother, sister, husband, wife, friend, noisy neighbor who has a coughing problem (hey- that’s not a bad idea!) and they will surely love you forever. And hopefully stop coughing…

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Peanut Butter and Cream Cheese Banana Bread with Candied Bacon {and a peanut butter and cream cheese icing}

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I have an obsession with tornadoes.

I don’t know why. I don’t know where it came from. But all I know is they have always been my biggest fear and for some reason lately I just CAN’T STOP watching videos online, reading articles and scientific websites and watching Tornado Road and Storm Chasers on TV. Since I was little I’ve always been deathly afraid of thunderstorms because I somehow convinced myself a thunderstorm would automatically lead to a tornado. I’d be playing softball and it would start to storm and I’d get hit by the ball because I’d be too busy looking at the clouds trying to seek out a funnel cloud. When a severe thunderstorm warning would come on the bottom of the TV screen I’d make my mom go hide in the basement with me. One summer when I was in Virginia with my teen travel camp I hid under the sink because there was a tornado watch. And, the worst of it all, the only nightmares I ever seem to have involve tornadoes, and I’ve been having TONS of nightmares lately.

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Now, if you Google dreams and tornadoes you will find that they sometimes mean you’ve lost control of your life and are feeling overwhelmed. I can’t tell you how accurate this is to my life right now. Sure there has been a lot going on in the country with tornadoes lately and that’s all that has been in the news the past couple of weeks. But I’ve also been in a weird place the past few months. Maybe because I’ve been feeling so stagnant, bored, in need of a challenge, itching to travel and hike up a mountain. Or maybe because my roommate and closest friend in Connecticut moved across the country and it’s taking time to adjust. Or maybe because I’m trying to figure out my next move and make some big life-changing decisions- and that all scares and excites me. I’m not really sure what it is exactly BUT what I am sure of, is out of all this tornado hype something good evolved. Something more than good. Something INCREDIBLE.

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The most delicious tornado went off in my kitchen this weekend. I made a Peanut Butter and Cream Cheese Banana Bread with Candied Bacon.

Yes, that’s right. Peanut butter, cream cheese and candied bacon, all in one. And, to add to the amazingness? Topped with a peanut butter and cream cheese icing.

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Candied bacon has to be one of the best things I’ve ever had in life. The sweetness and chewiness of the maple syrup and brown sugar when it caramelizes mixed with the spiciness of the cayenne pepper and the saltiness and crispiness of the bacon. All the best textures and flavors in one. So good, I ate half of it before it actually made its way into the batter.

Now I have to say, I’ve been on a major peanut butter and banana kick lately. Which is what inspired me to add the peanut butter to the banana bread. I must go through a jar of peanut butter a week! I know it’s not that good for you (everything in moderation) but I can’t seem to just stop after one spoonful. But who cares, it tastes so good! That’s what the gym is for, right?! Except when you eat peanut butter right before a run…I don’t recommend it. And bananas, I can’t stop baking with them! In pancakes, cookies, breads. But at last, I combined all my loves into one, creating the most delicious, moist and flavorful banana bread yet. And a tornado in my kitchen while doing so. And it was all SO worth it. You must try it!

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Oat and banana flax pancakes

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What better way to start my blog than with a confession. It’s like a therapy session…only there’s no one talking back, or sitting across from me taking notes…and I don’t have to write a check at the end of the session!

But, really. If I’m going to share with the world my passions, my favorite things in life, my thoughts and feelings…I may as well get it all out in the open in the beginning, right?

Ok, anyway. On with the confession.

…Drumroll please….

I have an obsession with pancakes.

No…seriously. It’s a sick obsession. I wake up and think about pancakes. I determine the brunch spot by the pancakes on the menu. When I’m stressed, I make pancakes. When I’ve had a few drinks and it’s 2 am and there’s a pizza joint across the street, I go home and make pancakes. Before I can go on a first date, one of my first questions to him is if he can make pancakes. And on top of it all, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about these pancakes I ate one morning before snowboarding at Hunter Mountain in New York. Forget the frostbite, forget the bruises, forget wiping out after getting off the lift and bruising my tailbone, but my goodness. I could never forget those pancakes!

This is the place that changed my outlook on pancakes forever.

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And this is the pancake that changed my life forever.

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My mouth is watering just looking at this picture! Who would have thought, a cafe in the middle of nowhere Tannersville, NY with Krooked floors that makes you feel like you’ve had one too many to drink when walking to the restooms, would have created such a masterpiece. I mean, really. Just look at that beauty! A perfect mixture of oats and toasted grains, bananas, flax. It’s like a mouth-watering dream come true!

I have tried for months and months to re-create these pancakes. I’ve even called there pretending I had a food allergy and asking if they could tell me what’s in them. I’ve tried blowing up the picture and studying it until I thought I needed a new eyeglass prescription! But they refuse to tell me what’s in them. Well, listen here Maggie’s…you don’t want to tell me, fine. YOUR LOSS. I’ll just create my own version!

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