You may think you’ve had better banana nut muffins, but…

Candied Pecan Banana MuffinsOne of my best “great finds” at this year’s International Food Blogger Conference were the Sahale Maple Pecans that we received during the Live Blogging Session with Amazon.com.

6Chocked full of pecans, along with walnuts, and cherries, then glazed with maple and cinnamon, these were easily one of the best products we tried.

Straight from the bag, they’re crunchy, delicious, and addictive…but the first taste and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them.

You see, I make banana-bread muffins at home for my girls and, while I won’t say that they are the best banana-bread muffins in the entire universe…I’m telling you that whoever does make the best banana-bread muffins in the entire universe, well…I make them nervous.

And I’ll tell you another thing…these Sahale Maple Pecans did what I would have claimed just a week ago to be impossible…they made my banana-bread muffins even better!

Candied Pecan Banana Muffins
20 Muffins

1/2 cup butter, room temp
1 cup white sugar + 2 tbsp.
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
4 over-ripe banana. frozen and thawed*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla
4 oz (1 bag) Sahale Maple Pecans with walnuts, cherries, and cinnamon.

Freezing the over-ripe bananas, and then thawing them, is the secret to this recipe. The end result is lovely “banana butter”…just be sure to peel your thawed bananas over the bowl!

Another plus with this method is that you can freeze a banana or two at a time until you have enough for the recipe, and you don’t have a fruit-fly attracting bunch of over-ripe bananas on your counter. The banana do no have to be black, just well spotted and slightly soft to the touch. They will blacken in the freezer.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine 1 cup of white sugar and 1/2 cup of brown sugar.

Cream the butter and add sugars gradually, mix in eggs and bananas.

In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients well, and add them to the banana mixture. (I use my Kitchen-Aid)

Add your milk, sour cream and vanilla. Mix till combined.

Butter your muffin tins and fill each muffin cup 3/4 of the way, tap tin on counter to work out any air bubbles.

Candied Pecan Banana Muffins

Sprinkle muffins with remaining sugar, and top evenly with Sahale Maple Pecan mixture.

Candied Pecan Banana Muffins

Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Want to take the hassle out of meal planning? For super-simple, healthy and delicious dinner recipes, check out our FREE weekly meal plans and shopping lists!  Your free membership helps us teach as-risk youth valuable life skills!


Let cool for 10 minutes before carefully turning them out on a wire rack.

(Running a butter knife around the outside of each muffin will help prevent sticking.)


Chef Perry


Farro & White Bean Salad with Chicken Apple Sausage

Farro & White Bean Salad with Chx Apple Sausage recipe

Another item that came home in my swag bag from last weekend’s International Food Blogger Conference, was a small bag of Bob’s Red Mill’s Farro.

Now, I get excited whenever I see Bob’s products on the table (last year it was Israeli Couscous – see recipe), because I know that these local folks produce ingredients of the best possible quality, and those impeccable standards are going to be reflected in my finished dishes.

This was no exception.

Farro RecipeThe slightly chewy nuttiness of the cooked farro, combined with the soft white beans and fresh bite of the raw spinach made this room-temp salad one of my new favorite dinners.

The chicken/apple sausage was a delicious addition, but wouldn’t leave the dish wanting if you wanted to go strictly veggie with it (Better Than Bullion’s vegetable base is amazing, so you could swap out the chicken base, as well)

Oh man, this salad is SO good!


Chef Perry

Farro & White Bean Salad with Chicken Apple Sausage
serves: 4-6

“The term farro is commonly used when referring to three ancient wheat varieties first cultivated in the Fertile Crescent and still grown in Italy: farro piccolo (aka the German einkorn), farro medio (aka emmer, the Hebrew word for mother), and farro grande (aka spelt).” – Maria Speck, “Ancient Grains for Modern Meals” (Ten Speed Press, 2011)

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Organic Farro
2 1/2 cups of water
1 tsp. Better than Bullion chicken base
1 tsp. Better than Bullion mushroom base
1 cup cooked white beans
1/3 cup raw sliced almonds
1/3 cup crasins (dried cranberries)
1 lb (4) Apple Chicken sausages
4 ounces fresh baby spinach, chopped
salt and pepper

juice of 1 orange (1/2 cup)
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 shallot
1 tbsp real maple syrup
salt and pepper
1/4 cup grapeseed oil

Mise en Place

Cook and cool white beans. Toast the sliced almonds. Rinse and finely chop the spinach. Juice the orange. Mince the shallot.

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Prepare the Dish

In a small saucepan over medium heat, reduce vinegar by half. Remove from the heat, and set aside.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

Place farro in a medium saucepan with water and bases, and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Simmer for 30 minutes or until slightly tender but still a little chewy. Drain the farro, shock with cold water, and drain.

Oven cooked chicken apple sausagesWhile the farro is cooking, place sausages in an oven-safe dish, and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, turning once.

Let cool another 15 minutes, and then cut each sausage into eights.

Toss the cooked farro with the white beans, sliced almonds, crasins, chopped spinach, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Farro saladMake the dressing: whisk together the orange juice, apple cider vinegar, shallots, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in the oil while quickly whisking the mixture. Taste for seasoning. Pour over farro and bean mixture and toss to combine.

Place dressed farro and bean mixture in a serving plate. Arrange sausage pieces on top.

Drizzle balsamic reduction over the top, and serve.


Happy National Cheeseburger Day

This is my all-time favorite, over-the-top, wear-an-old-shirt cheeseburger!

We make these monsters every year (and you probably shouldn’t have them much more often that that) for our family camp-out, and they’re always a hit!

(Note: These are “thin burgers”, designed to maximize the char of the grill, while keeping the burger, and all the fixin’s, reasonably eatable within the limits of the normal mouth size.)

Fully Awesome Burger

THE Fully Awe-some Burger (serves 6)

The Patty
2lbs ground beef (15/85 fat)
1 lg sweet onion, diced fine
2 Tbs Montreal steak seasoning
2 Tbs fresh minced garlic
1 Tbs coarse sea salt
1 Tbs coarse black pepper

The Rest
6 Whole wheat burger buns (or your favorite)
1 cup simple guacamole (see below)
6 Tbs mayo
12 oz aged smoked white-cheddar cheese, grated or sliced
9 strips sliced bacon (I like maple) cooked and halved. (Kept warm)
Red onion, sliced
6 slices leaf lettuce

Simple Guacamole
3 medium Haas avocados, ripe. Peeled and diced.
1 Tbs lime juice
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste.

Mix all “patty” ingredients together, form into six equal balls and fridge 4 hours – or overnight, covered. Press into rounds slightly larger that the buns and chill for another 1-2 hours between maxed paper. You want to keep that fat as cold as possible. Here’s why.

Make simple guacamole (simply mix all ingredients) and keep chilled.

Start coals or gas grill and heat to high, lightly grill buns (cut side only) and remove, then throw a small handful of oak chips on the fire, if you have them.

Cook bacon in pan, drain on paper towels and wrap in foil. These can be set on the back of the grill to re-heat just before using.

When grill is hot, place patties evenly on surface and close the lid. Check occasionally for flare-up (these are high fat burgers) and perhaps have a spray bottle of water handy to keep the flames down. Cook 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prep buns (see below.)

Flip burgers and place 2oz of grated or sliced cheese on top of each. Cover and cook 2 minutes. Check to see if cheese has melted, if so, place three half-strips of bacon on each patty and remove from grill.

Spread 1 Tbs of mayo on each bottom bun, and 2 Tbs of guacamole on each top bun.

Place bacon cheese-burger patty between them, add onion and lettuce, and serve immediately. (Best if patties are taken directly from grill and placed on waiting buns.)

A simple coleslaw and some cubed, chilled watermelon go very nicely with this dish.

For big eaters, use the same about of meat to make 4 patties. Change ingredients to:

4 oversized burger buns (your favorite)
2/3 cup simple guacamole (see below)
4 Tbs mayo
8 ounces smoked white cheddar cheese, grated
6 strips thick sliced bacon (I like maple) cooked and halved. (Kept warm)
2 medium Haas avocados, ripe. Peeled and diced.
2 tsp lime juice
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste.


FYI…Vic dubbed these, “Fully Awe-some Burgers”, as we were watching Bolt at the time, lol.

-Chef Perry


Moroccan Carrot Salad with Paprika and Cumin

Carrot Salad

I love Moroccan food, especially the numerous “small dishes” that lead up to the entree. The cold carrot salad is one of my favorites, and this is my favorite recipe for that dish.


Chef Perry

Moroccan Carrot Salad with Paprika and Cumin

1 lb. fresh carrots
4 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, partially crushed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Slice carrots into 1/2 inch thick rounds, and boil in salted water until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, and immediately cover the carrots with cold water to stop further cooking. Once cold, drain again.

In a medium pot or skillet, gently sauté the garlic cloves in the olive oil for two or three minutes over low heat. Discard the garlic, and add the carrots, lemon juice, cilantro, mint, and spices. Sauté over low heat for another two minutes, and remove from the heat.

Serve either warm or chilled (I prefer chilled).





Apple Pie Burritos

Apple-Cinnamon Burritos

Chef Terry’s Apple Pie Burritos from this week’s Classic Meal Plan.

I made them last night….so easy, and a-freakin-mazing!

-Chef Perry

Apple Pie Burritos

Active Time: 15 min.
Total Time: 35 min.

· 2 lg. Granny Smith apples
· 1 orange
· 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
· 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
· 1 tbsp. cornstarch
· 2 tbsp. cold water
· 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
· 4 (7 to 8-inch) flour tortillas
· 1 tbsp. butter, melted sugar

Mise en Place

Quarter the apple length-wise and remove the core from each then slice quarters crosswise into thin slices.

Zest and juice the orange. Combine the cornstarch & water. Chop the nuts. Melt the butter. Pre-heat oven to 375° F.

Lightly grease baking sheet.


Combine the apples, orange juice & zest in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and gently boil 5 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon and cook 2-3 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add the cornstarch mixture and bring sauce to boil for 1 minute.

Place apple filling in a bowl and stir in nuts. Fill each tortilla by placing filling in center and folding edges to enclose. Place each on baking sheet, brush with butter and then sprinkle with sugar.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

Bake 20-25 minutes. Let burritos rest for 20 minutes, cut in half diagonally and serve with vanilla-bean ice cream.

If you like your dessert less crispy, wrap each assembled burrito in plastic wrap, and reduce the oven temp to 300F.


Rosemary Grilled Chicken & Mushroom Sauce with Garlic Mashed Cauliflower (GF)

ChxA comforting, delicious, easy-to-fix dinner that’s sure to please the meat-and-potatoes crowd.

This recipe is from our Gluten-Free & Easy Meal Plan!

Rosemary Grilled Chicken & Mushroom Sauce

Yield: 4 servings         
Active Time: 10 min.      
Total Time: 30 min.

  • 4 chicken thighs, w/ skin & bone
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • dash of salt & black pepper
  • 4 stems fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup chicken broth*(GF)
  • 1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon* (GF)
  • 2 garlic clove
  • 2 med. shallot
  • 1 tbsp. potato starch
  • 1 cup red wine, dry
  • 1 lb. baby portobello mushrooms

Mise en Place

Remove and chop the rosemary leaves from the stems. Chop the bacon. Skin and crush the garlic. Skin and chop the shallot. Thinly slice the portobello mushrooms.

Prepare the Dish

Heat a grill pan over high heat. Drizzle chicken thighs with oil, season with black pepper and rosemary. Grill chicken 5 minutes on each side and remove from heat to rest for 5 minutes.

Place broth in a small bowl and cover. Heat in microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove broth from microwave. Add dried porcini to the dish and replace the cover. Steep porcinis in broth 5 to 10 minutes to reconstitute mushrooms. This may also be done on the stovetop. Simmer broth, and mushrooms for 10 minutes over low heat.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

In a medium non-stick skillet, add olive oil, sauté bacon, crushed garlic and chopped shallot over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add sliced portobello mushrooms to the pan and season with salt & black pepper.

Sauté portobello mushrooms 10 minutes, or until dark and tender. Add flour and cook 1 minute. Add red wine to the pan and reduce by 1/2, about 1 minute. Add reserved broth and porcini mushrooms to the pan and simmer together 1 to 2 minutes longer to combine. Slice chicken thighs, removing skin and bone and fan out on a plate. Ladle thick mushroom sauce down over sliced chicken and serve.

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

Yield: 4 servings              Active Time: 15 min.       Total Time: 21 min.

  • 1 med. head cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp. lite cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • salt & black Pepper, to taste
  • 4 tsp. butter

Mise en Place

Bring cream cheese to room temperature. Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Skin and mince the garlic.

Prepare the Dish

Place rinsed cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl. No additional water is needed! Cover the bowl with microwave safe plastic wrap, leaving one corner open to vent. Microwave on high for four minutes.

In a food processor (or with a good old fashioned potato masher), puree the hot cauliflower with the cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, salt & black pepper until almost smooth.

Serve hot with butter.

* Gluten-Free Brand Recommendations
Chicken Broth – Pacific Foods
Bacon- Applegate Farms