Healthy Chocolate Chip Apple Muffins

Our apples from apple picking are finally gone! Here is one last apple recipe that was the kids favorite. 

For a healthy twist, we substituted applesauce for butter, took out some sugar (your kids won't notice) and added olive oil. My kids insisted we add chocolate chips, and they were right, the perfect Fall muffin! These muffins taste decadent straight from the oven or served warm. Perfect for this cool Chicago October day! And since it is October 1st, don't forget to say and have your family say "Rabbit Rabbit" for good luck this month!

Chocolate Chip Apple Muffin Recipe: (yields about 8-10 muffins):
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar and then 2 tbsp for topping
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup applesauce
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cup nonfat milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 apple- diced into little pieces (I used honey crisp)
2 tbsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine all ingredients until smooth except the apple, cinnamon and sugar topping.
Pour each muffin cup half way with batter, layer with apple pieces, then cover with batter to top of muffin cup. 
Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top of each muffin and then swirl with a fork.
Bake about 30-35 minutes.


Cinnamon Apple Bread

Have you gone apple picking yet? We went over the weekend, and I promised my kids we would experiment with lots of apple recipes over the next few weeks.

The kids first suggested we bake Apple Bread. This recipe turned out amazing! The bread complimented my coffee this morning, my husband devoured a piece straight from the oven, and both of my kids ate breakfast without a fuss.

This recipe is simple to make and uses simple ingredients. My kids can pretty much do everything themselves now (they are growing up too fast!), except I chopped the apple. They cracked the eggs, mixed the batter, layered the apples and sprinkled on the cinnamon sugar. Happy Fall everyone!

Cinnamon Apple Bread


1 large apple- diced (If you feel ambitious, you can peel off the skin.)
8 tbsp butter/1 stick
2/3 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 ¼ cup white flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup nonfat milk
½ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon


1.)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.)  Spray loaf pan with baking spray.
3.)  In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
4.)  In a mixing bowl, blend butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Mix until smooth. Slowly add in flour, baking powder and milk. Mix.
5.)  Pour half the batter into the loaf pan. Evenly layer diced apple into batter and sprinkle on brown sugar and cinnamon mixture until completely covering apple layer. Pour remaining batter over apples.
6.)  For the topping, evenly layer apples over the top of the batter. Sprinkle on cinnamon sugar mixture.
7.)  Bake 50-52 minutes or until bread is baked through.


Easy & Healthy Baked Meatballs and Spaghetti

Not sure what to make for dinner? With cooler temps and darker days on their way, here is a hearty yet healthy meal the whole family will enjoy!

My kids had fun making a gigantic mess with the ingredients and then rolling the meatballs. I was thrilled they ate their entire plate!

Baked Meatballs & Spaghetti


1 1/2 lbs uncooked ground sirloin
1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs or panko crumbs
¼ cup Parmesan cheese- grated- plus extra for sprinkling on top
1 large egg
½ tsp salt and pepper
whole wheat or whole grain spaghetti- cook according to package directions
Your favorite pasta sauce
¼ cup fresh basil- chopped (optional)


1.)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.)  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil coated with cooking spray.
3.)  In a large bowl, blend beef, breadcrumbs, cheese, egg, salt and pepper.
4.)  Roll into about 1 inch shaped meatballs and place on prepared baking sheet.
5.)  Bake until cooked through, turning meatballs after 10 minutes and then continue baking for another 10 minutes or until cooked through.
6.)  While meatballs are baking, cook spaghetti according to package directions and pour pasta sauce in a pan over medium-low heat.
7.)  When meatballs are done, place meatballs in sauce and coat with sauce. Serve meatballs covered in sauce over spaghetti.
8.)  Garnish with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.


Broiled Salmon with Brown Sugar Dijon Glaze

Welcome back to school and Happy Labor Day! At Jolly Oak, we have the kids returning to school, settling into their new routines and diligently working on Jolly Oak.

Since September is a busy month, we are focusing on quick, healthy meals. Here is a favorite simple salmon recipe one of my friends suggested when I was searching for new dinner ideas. She promised everyone would happily eat this dinner, even the kids. She was right!

The kids loved helping prepare and whisk the 2 ingredient sauce, and I had them paint it on the salmon using a cooking brush. Hope this dinner becomes a favorite of your family's too!

Broiled Salmon with Brown Sugar Dijon Glaze
                1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
                2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
                4 (6 ounce) boneless salmon fillets- ask them at the counter to remove any skin and cut into 6oz pieces
                salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the broiler and set the oven rack at about 6 inches from the heat source; prepare a broiler pan/baking tray lined with aluminum foil with cooking spray.
2. Whisk together brown sugar and Dijon mustard.
3. Arrange each salmon filet side by side on the baking tray.
4. Season the top of each filet with salt and pepper and then spread on the brown sugar mixture so the entire top is coated.
5. Bake salmon under broiler until the fish flakes easily with a fork or until desired taste, about 10-15 minutes.