Lunch With Loni

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Blueberry Avocado Muffins March 29, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 9:24 pm

I guess you could call these “superfood” muffins, since I’ve heard so many good things about the benefits of both avocados and blueberries.  Mine actually wound up being blueberry and blackberry avocado muffins, as I had a mix of both in the freezer.  I skipped the streusel topping.  The toddler was a little impatient (she wanted to be outside), so this cut off a few minutes.  No biggie!  Another great healthier breakfast/snack option for the repertoire.  No butter, no oil, but plenty moist and chock full of juicy berries.

 Recipe Located At:


Blueberry Avocado Muffins 


Muffin Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup all purpose and 1 cup whole wheat)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 ripe avocado, seeded and peeled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
*Streusel Topping Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter, slightly cooled
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar



1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.

2.  In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon (optional). In a separate electric mixer mixing bowl, add avocado and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar, and beat until well blended. Add egg, and continue beating until completely combined. Add vanilla and yogurt, beating until just combined. Add half of the flour mixture into the batter in two separate batches, beating until just combined. Gently fold in blueberries by hand. Spoon batter (or use a cookie scoop) into prepared muffin cups, and sprinkle with streusel topping.

3.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing.

*To Make The Streusel Topping:

Whisk together all ingredients until combined and mixture is crumbly.


Chicken Enchilada Pasta Bake March 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 2:14 am

Loaded with all kinds of good for you veggies (red/orange/yellow bell peppers, grape tomatoes, spinach, onions) and with a good dose of protein (refried beans and chicken breast), this is a great all-in-one meal.  I took quite a few liberties with the original recipe and lightened it up a bit, using fat free refried beans and omitting the nacho chips.  I’m sure the crunch is a nice addition, but I didn’t have any on hand, and it did save some calories and sodium.  The spinach was an add-on, and I switched up the noodles for tri-color rotini (I think filled shells would be prettier, but this involves less work). Instead of the taco seasoning and enchilada sauce it called for, I slow-cooked my chicken breasts in a fresh salsa that I added some extra seasoning to.  The result?  A very fresh tasting casserole with a lot of flavor.  I especially like how the beans thicken it up without adding a ton of cheese.  This also makes for a great “round two” recipe you can toss some leftover chicken into!


 Recipe Located At:


 Chicken Enchilada Pasta

This doesn’t have the extra cheese and green onions on top, since it’s a photo of leftovers.  Imagine this—but nicer! 


  • 12 ounce package dried pasta
  • 3 3/4 cups chopped large green and/or red sweet peppers (3 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (3 medium)
  • 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped*  Please don’t be like me and rub your eyes later on in the evening without even thinking about it, until you feel the massive burning.  I think I do this every time.
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken* I cooked the chicken in the slow cooker with one container of refrigerated fresh salsa (16 oz)  from the store.  If you prefer to cook the chicken another way, add the salsa to the pan with other ingredients.  I liked how this kept the chicken very moist and flavorful, and I cooked an extra chicken breast that I sliced and saved for another night!
  • 16 ounce can refried beans
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican-style four-cheese blend (8 ounces)–I used 2% cheese.
  • 1 cup sliced green onions (not pictured in my “leftovers” photo)
  • 1 package (8oz) frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 1 (8 oz) package grape tomatoes, sliced
  • Greek yogurt or sour cream for topping, if desired



1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Rinse with cold water; drain again.

2.  In large skillet cook sweet peppers, red onions, and jalapeno pepper in hot oil over medium heat about 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken, salsa, beans, spinach, tomatoes, and the salt. Cook and stir for 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese and 1/2 cup of the green onions.

3.  Spoon chicken mixture into the pasta and stir.  Spread into 3 quart casserole dish and top with remaining cheese.

4.  Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, about 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with remaining green onions. Serve with Greek yogurt if desired.


Zucchini Carrot Cranberry Muffins March 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 10:28 pm

Zucchini, carrot and cranberries.  Hmm.  An intriguing combination that I thought could turn out well or end badly, but either way, I wanted to try.  A co-worker and friend was looking through recipes with me in preparation for a work training event that I planned to bring some goodies to.  This one caught both of our eyes, and it had to be tested.  I can safely say it turned out well (had it ended badly, it wouldn’t have ended up on the blog)!  They also travel well, as they made a 6 hour road trip with us and tasted just fine for breakfast the next day.  They pack a good veggie punch that you really don’t notice.  It’s also amazing to me how the carrots and zucchini kind of disintegrate when they bake, so you don’t wind up with an oddly-textured muffin.  The cranberries give it a little pop of tartness.  You could definitely make them with another berry as well (blackberries or raspberries I think would be best).  I cut down on the sugar slightly, as usual, especially with toddler breakfasts in mind!  This is definitely a recipe where I’d use the full amount of sugar if you’re not like me and like things better on the not-so-sweet side.  Because the cranberries are tart and the carrots/zucchini aren’t sweet, you’ll need more sugar than a standard blueberry or apple muffin.


 Recipe Located At:

Zucchini Carrot Cranberry Muffins



  • 2 cups all purpose flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat, 1 cup white all purpose)
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • A pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup sugar  (I used 1/2 cup regular and 1/4 cup brown sugar– 3/4 cup total)
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 3/4 cup finely grated carrots (approx 1 medium)
  • 3/4 cup finely grated zucchini (approx 1 medium)
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole fresh or frozen (unthawed) cranberries


1.  Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Grease a standard 12 cup muffin pan and set aside.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla until combined. Mix in the grated zucchini and carrots.

4.  Fold in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until combined. Fold in the cranberries.

5.  Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

6.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Rotate the pan mid way through the baking time.

7.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Turn out muffins on their side in the muffin cups, and let cool in the pan. Serve warm or at room temp.


Italian Drunken Noodles March 12, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 1:08 am

No, this isn’t just a recipe where you drink a lot of wine and make pasta—or put a lot of wine in pasta.  It’s an Italian take on the Thai dish.  I solicited Italian sausage recipes from friends because I wanted to try something new.  This came with several ringing endorsements, and I love all the ingredients, so I decided to give it a go.  I couldn’t get my hands on pappardelle, so I improvised.  I’ll definitely plan ahead next time and pick some up from a store that does sell it, since I love that type of pasta.  The extra wide egg noodles I used worked out well, though.  So if you don’t have a place nearby where you can buy pappardelle, you may want to try my approach!  Now I think I need to make Thai drunken noodles next.  Yumm!

 Recipe Located At:


Italian Drunken Noodles



  • Olive oil
  • 4 spicy Italian sausage links, casings removed
  • 1 large onion, quartered and sliced thinly
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, julienned, divided use (The picture above is leftovers and I was too lazy to put fresh on top!)
  • 8 ounces Pappardelle noodles, uncooked (Unfortunately they didn’t sell pappardelle at the store nearest to me, so I wound up using extra wide egg noodles)


1.  Place a large, heavy-bottom pan or braising pot over medium-high heat; add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and once the oil is hot, crumble the spicy Italian sausage into the pan in small chunks (you want to keep the sausage fairly chunky), allowing it to brown in the oil for a few moments on each side; once the crumbled sausage is browned, remove it from the pan/pot with a slotted spoon and place into a small bowl to hold for a moment; next, add the sliced onion into the pan with the sausage drippings, and allow it to caramelize and become golden for roughly 5 minutes or so, stirring to keep it from burning (add a touch more olive oil, if necessary).

2.  Once the onion starts to become golden, add the salt, Italian seasoning and cracked black pepper, and stir to combine, then add in the sliced bell peppers, and allow those to saute with the onion for about 2 minutes until slightly tender and golden.

3.  Next, add in the garlic, and once it becomes aromatic, add in the white wine and allow it to reduce for a few moments, until almost completely reduced; next, add in the diced tomatoes with their juice.

4.  Return the browned spicy Italian sausage back into the pan, and gently fold the mixture to combine; allow it to gently simmer for about 3-4 minutes to blend the flavors, then turn the heat off; to finish the sauce, drizzle in about 2-3 good tablespoons of the olive oil to create a silky, rich flavor, and add in the chopped parsley and about half of the julienned basil; stir, and keep warm while you prepare the noodles.

5.  Prepare the pappardelle noodles according to instructions on package; then, drain the noodles very well, and add them directly into the sauce, using tongs to gently toss and combine the pappardelle noodles with the sauce and all of the ingredients in it; check the seasoning to see if you need to add any additional salt or pepper.

6.  To serve, add equal portions of the “Drunken” noodles to bowls, and garnish with a sprinkle of the remaining julienned basil; you can even top with shaved Parmesan, if desired, and an extra drizzle of olive oil.


Chai Spiced Pumpkin Bread March 9, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 9:55 pm

I came across this recipe when I was looking for a chai donut recipe, and knew I had to try it out as well.  Good thing I did, because this is one of my husband’s favorite baked good recipes I’ve tried in a while.  It is very moist and flavorful.  With the tweaks I made to it, it is also healthier than the original recipe, but you wouldn’t know it!  The recipe yields 3 small or 2 large loaves, which makes it great if you want to bring something to work or treat a neighbor, but still have some for yourself!  PS.  How awesome is the blog name “Butter Lust.”  Pretty darn awesome.

 Recipe Located At:


Chai Spiced Pumpkin Bread 


  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs and 2 egg whites (Original recipe calls for 4 eggs)
  • (I used 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt) (Original recipe calls for 1 cup vegetable oil)
  • 2/3 cup chai tea concentrate (Steep 3 bags of chai tea in 2/3 cup boiling water for 10 minutes)
  • 1 cup regular sugar and 3/4 cup brown sugar.  (This was plenty for me since the vanilla yogurt is also sweet, but I prefer things on the “not too sweet” side.  Original recipe calls for 3 cups sugar)
  •  2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups white all-purpose flour. (Original recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger



1.  Preheat oven to 350. Grease either 3 7×3 inch loaf pans OR 2 larger loaf pans (such as a 9×5).

2.  In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, vegetable oil, chai tea and sugar. Mix until well blended.

3.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients.

4.  Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture and blend just until there are no lumps.

5.  Pour into your prepared pans. For 3 smaller pans bake for approximately 50 minutes. For 2 larger pans bake for 60-65 minutes. Loaves are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Blackberry Applesauce Muffins March 8, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 11:29 pm

These actually were supposed to be blueberry applesauce muffins, but since I had some frozen blackberries on hand—I went with what I had!  These are low-fat, very moist thanks to the applesauce, and the oats give them a nice texture.  I also like oats in baked goods because they give you a longer-lasting “fullness.”  I have been trying to make some healthier breakfast baked goods.  My daughter loves muffins and I like knowing what’s going into what’s going into her!  She gives these two toddler thumbs’ up!

 Recipe Located At:

  Blueberry Applesauce Muffin




  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp canola oil (I used the almond oil I had on hand)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup blackberries (or blueberries—fresh or frozen)


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Place silicone muffin liners in a muffin tin.  Or, line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cases or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

3.  In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a medium bowl combine applesauce, buttermilk, sugar, oil and egg. Make a well in dry ingredients and add applesauce mixture. Stir until just moist. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.  I used my handy-dandy cookie scoop!

4.  Bake for 16-18 minutes.