Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Spiced Zucchini Muffins


As a mom, I want my kids to eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.  Jake has always been a great vegetable eater so I never thought I would be searching for ways to sneak in veggies, but then we had Luke.  After we starting feeding Luke solids he started having some serious GI issues that were impacting his growth.  We finally figured out what was causing them; his body couldn't absorb fructose.  He has now started to outgrow it, but we still have to limit the amount of fruits we give to Luke so I feel even more pressure (from myself) to get extra vegetables into him.

Getting him to eat food in general is a challenge, unless it is a bread product, so I find myself having to get creative to feed him a balanced diet.  Because of how much he loves bread in all of its iterations, I've been thinking about mixing vegetables in with muffins.  I like almost all vegetables, but zucchini is one of the few foods that I don't really like.  I will eat it, but it isn't something I generally choose.  That is probably why I've never had, let alone made, zucchini bread.  Luke inspired me to give it a try.

I decided to make zucchini muffins instead of zucchini bread so that I would have individual servings.  Since this was my first foray into baking with zucchini I wasn't sure where to start so I did a lot of searching.  So many of the recipes that I found had applesauce or banana in them and I wanted these muffins to be fruit free.  I finally found a recipe that was fruit free and decided to give it a try.

The recipe sounded great as is, but I couldn't resist making a few tweaks.  I've pretty much abandoned all purpose flour for white whole wheat flour.  I find it works just as well (at least it does for me) and makes me feel like I'm being a little bit healthier.  As I mentioned, I'm not zucchini's biggest fan so I decided to add in some pumpkin pie spice because it is DE-LI-CIOUS!  I also added in Greek yogurt to keep the muffins nice and moist.

Start out by preheating your oven to 400 and whisking together your dry ingredients: white whole wheat flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Make a well in the center.


In another bowl mix together some shredded zucchini, Greek yogurt (I used fat free), vegetable oil, honey, an egg, and a splash of milk (I used whole but I think whatever you have on hand is fine).


Once your wet ingredients are thoroughly combined, pour them into the well in the center of your dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.


Use an ice cream scoop to scoop the batter into muffin tins sprayed with baking spray.  Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown, and then remove to a cooling rack.


I made these for Luke, but couldn't stop eating them myself.  The warm flavors from the pumpkin pie spice make these feel like comfort food.


Spiced Zucchini Muffins
Adapted from Kathie's 
  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbls. milk
  • 2 tbls. vegetable oil
  • 2 tbls. honey
  • 1 egg
  1.  Preheat oven to 400 and spray muffin tin with baking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together dry ingredients, flour through salt, and make a well in the center.
  3. In another bowl or large measuring cup, combine remaining ingredients.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combined.
  5. Use an ice cream scoop to portion batter into muffin tins and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.


I'm linking up with Create It Thursday, Cook It Craft It Share It, Crafty & Delicious, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Cookin & Craftin, Creativity Unleashed, Pin Junkie, Thrifty Thursday, and Friday Favorites

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Chicken & Rice Casserole


I love meals that can be made ahead.  If they freeze well too, bestill my heart.  While I always love a good casserole, when the temperatures drop I love them even more.  A couple of years back I discovered this Cheesy Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole on Picky Palate.  I couldn't find the wild rice she recommended so I made a substitution and then a few more tweaks.  It quickly became one of my favorites.  This recipe is a little more time consuming to prepare, but it can all be made ahead and then just popped in the oven before dinner.  It is also super easy to double so you can get two wonderful meals without having to do the work twice.  I like to make a double batch of this Chicken & Rice Casserole on the weekend for a delicious Sunday dinner, and then freeze one to bring a little weekend goodness to a busy weeknight.

The cheese sauce in this Chicken & Rice Casserole is homemade, but I take a little shortcut with this super yummy Quinoa & Brown Rice mix.


I buy mine at Costco in a 6-pack but you can get it at Target and Wal-Mart too.  Start out by microwaving your rice according to the instructions on the package and then set it aside.

Chop up some onion, carrot, and celery and saute them in a large pot with a little olive oil.  Once the vegetables are softened, add in a good amount of minced garlic and saute for about a minute more.


Stir in the pre-cooked rice, a few cups of chopped up rotisserie chicken, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  This recipe is deliciously garlicky, but not overly so.


While your veggies are sauteing, make your cheese sauce.  Melt half a stick of butter in a medium saucepan.  Whisk in an equal amount of flour along with a little salt and pepper.  Pour in two cups of chicken stock and continue to whisk until the sauce starts to thicken.  Stir in some shredded cheddar and Monterrey jack cheeses until they are melted.

Pour the cheese sauce over the rice mixture and stir until everything is well coated.  Pour it all into a 9 x 13 baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.


Top with some more shredded cheese because cheese is delicious.


  Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted.


Look at that bubbly goodness.  This Chicken & Rice Casserole is comfort food at its finest.  The layered garlic flavors from the garlic, garlic powder, and rice blend give an incredible depth of flavor.  Combine that with the creamy, cheesy goodness of the sauce and the slight bite from the veggies and you have casserole perfection.  Dinner is served!



Chicken & Rice Casserole
Adapted from Picky Palate

For the casserole: 
    • 2-4 tbls. olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 1 cup chopped celery
    • 1 cup chopped carrots
    •  4-6 cloves garlic, minced
    •  3 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
    • 3 (8.5 oz) packages Seeds of Change Quinoa & Brown Rice with Garlic   
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper
    • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    For the sauce:
    • 4 tbls. butter
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. pepper 
    • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
    • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
    • 2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, divided
    1. Microwave your rice according to the package instructions.
    2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat and saute onion, carrots, and celery, stirring occasionally, until softened (about 15 minutes).   Add in the garlic and saute for another minute.
    3. While the vegetables are cooking, make your cheese sauce:  Melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Whisk in flour, salt, and pepper and continue to cook over medium-high heat for about a minute.  Add in chicken stock, continuing to whisk until sauce starts to thicken.  Stir in 1 1/3 cups of cheddar and 1 cup of Monterrey Jack cheeses until melted.
    4. Add the chicken, rice/quinoa blend, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to the pot with the vegetables.  Stir to combine.
    5. Pour in cheese sauce and stir until everything is coated.  Then pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.  
    6. Top with the remaining 2/3 cup cheddar and 1 cup Monterrey Jack cheeses and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.
    *You can also divide this into two square baking dishes and freeze one for another time. 


    I'm linking up with Lou Lou Girls, Mad Skills, Create Link Inspire, Two Cup Tuesday, Tips & Tricks, Whimsy Wednesdays, Wednesday Whatsits, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Cook It Craft It Share It, Crafty & Delicious, Create It Thursday, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Creativity Unleashed, Pin Junkie, Cookin & Craftin, Thrifty Thursday, and Friday Favorites.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2015

    Slow Cooker Verde Chicken Chili


    I love chili and I love verde chicken so this Slow Cooker Verde Chicken Chili was a match made in heaven for me.  Even though I love chili, I don't make it very often because Jake won't eat soup (of any kind).  On top of that, Jake and Josh won't eat beans, total weirdos.  Luckily, Luke eats beans like they are going out of style.  Anyway, this chili was the perfect compromise because it is super versatile which made it something that all four of us happily ate.  I used a slotted spoon to take out some of the chicken to make tacos for Josh and Jake, Luke gobbled up the beans, and I ate it as intended.  No matter how you decide to eat this Slow Cooker Verde Chicken Chili your taste buds will thank you!

    In addition to being super delicious, this chili is very easy to make.  Other than chopping an onion and mincing a few cloves of garlic, you mostly just dump everything in and let the slow cooker do the work.  You could even buy some pre-chopped onion and those little cubes of frozen minced garlic (I love you Trader Joe's).

     
    Once the chicken is cooked through you take it out and shred it.  Look how juicy that chicken is!


    I wanted this to be thick like chili, not a soup, so I mixed a little bit of corn starch and water and stirred that in before I added the chicken back in.


    Serve this up as is or with your favorite toppings.  For me that was shredded Monterrey jack cheese and guacamole.



    Like most chili recipes, this Slow Cooker Verde Chicken Chili is even better the next day.  I'm pretty sure it will freeze well, but it didn't last long enough for me to find out.  Next time, I think I will make a double batch.


    Slow Cooker Verde Chicken Chili
    Adapted from Budget Bytes
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 2 cups salsa verde
    • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
    • 1 tsp. dried oregano
    • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
    • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
    • 2 cups chicken broth
    • 2 tbsp. corn starch
    • 1 tbsp. water
    • Monterrey Jack cheese, Greek yogurt, or guacamole for topping
    1. Put all ingredients except corn starch and water in slow cooker and cook on high for about 3 hours.
    2. Remove chicken and shred it.  
    3. Combine corn starch and water and stir into slow cooker.
    4. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir to combine.
    5. Continue to cook for 30 minutes.
    6. Serve with shredded jack cheese, Greek yogurt, or guacamole.

    I'm linking up with Inspiration Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Busy Monday, Munching Monday, Create Link Inspire, Lou Lou Girls, Mad Skills, Tips & Tricks, Two Cup TuesdayTasty Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Wednesday Whatsits, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Cook It Craft It Share It, Cookin & Craftin, Thrifty Thursday, Creativity Unleashed, Pin JunkieCreate It Thursday, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Best Recipes, Pinworthy Projects, Saturday Night Fever, and Link Party Palooza.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2015

    One Bowl Chocolate Bundt Cake with Easy Chocolate Glaze


    Sometimes you just need chocolate, lots of chocolate.  Valentine's Day is the perfect excuse to indulge your inner chocoholic.  While I love desserts that look and taste indulgent, I don't love things that are super complicated and make lots of dishes.  That is why I love this One Bowl Chocolate Bundt Cake with Easy Chocolate Glaze.  It has a rich and intense chocolate flavor, looks beautiful, and best of all, is incredibly easy to make.

    To make the cake, put all of the ingredients except chocolate chips (the recipe is below) in a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer and beat until well combined and smooth.


    Look at that thick, chocolaty batter.  Now because you can never have enough chocolate, stir in some chocolate chips.


    Pour the batter into a bundt pan sprayed with baking spray and bake for 35-45 minutes at 350 until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs.



    Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then invert it onto a cooling rack.


    While the cake continues to cool, make your glaze.  This step is super tricky so try not to get overwhelmed. ;)  Put some chocolate chips, a quarter stick of butter, and a little bit of corn syrup into a liquid measuring cup (this will make it easy to pour the glaze onto the cake).  Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring well after each, until the glaze is smooth.

    Put your cake onto the serving plate (it's okay if it isn't totally cool).  Pour glaze over the top of the cake and let set before serving.


    Look at that chocolatey goodness.


    One Bowl Chocolate Bundt Cake with Easy Chocolate Glaze
    Adapted From Hershey's One Bowl Chocolate Cake

    For the Cake:
    • 2 cups white whole wheat flour 
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
    • 1 stick butter, softened
    • 1 cup water
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    For the Glaze:
    • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    • 2 tbls. corn syrup
    • 2 tbls. butter
    1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray a bundt pan with baking spray.
    2. Beat together all cake ingredients, except chocolate chips, until smooth.  
    3. Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour batter into bundt pan.
    4. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto serving plate.
    5. While cake continues to cool, make glaze.
    6. Put chocolate chips, corn syrup and butter in a 2 cup liquid measuring cup and microwave in 30 second increments, stirring well after each until smooth. 
    7. Pour glaze over top of cake and let set before serving.

    I'm linking up with Inspiration Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Busy Monday, Munching Monday, Create Link Inspire, Lou Lou Girls, Two Cup Tuesday, Tips & TricksTasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays, Whimsy Wednesdays, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Wednesday Whatsits, Cook It Craft It Share It, Create It Thursday, Crafty & Delicious, Thrifty Thursday, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Pin Junkie, Creativity Unleashed, Cookin & Craftin, Weekend Social, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Best Recipes, Pinworthy Projects, Saturday Night Fever, and Link Party Palooza.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2015

    3 Ingredient Chocolate Raspberry Cookies


    As I'm sure you know by now, I love making holidays super special for my kids from morning until night.  Valentine's Day is almost here so I've been planning how to do that.  Last year I made these heart cut-out One Eyed Sandwiches to start the day and they were such a hit, I'm planning to make them again.


    We don't have a babysitter this year so we will be celebrating as a family.   In thinking about our dessert, I wanted to make a Valentine's treat that Jake could make with me.  These Chocolate Raspberry Cookies are incredibly easy but look super impressive and taste divine.  You only need THREE ingredients to make them: a box of Famous Chocolate Wafers, some raspberry jam (I used seedless but regular is fine too), and chocolate chips.


    I like to use a cooling rack with wax paper underneath to assemble these cookies, but you can use a cookie sheet or even just the wax paper.  For each finished cookie you will need two wafers.  Start out by laying your chocolate wafers in pairs.  Put some chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each, until melted and smooth.  While your chocolate is melting spread raspberry jam on half of the wafers.


    Once your chocolate is ready, use another knife (I found a little butter knife is perfect for this) to spread the melted chocolate on the remaining wafers.


    Then sandwich together a raspberry wafer with a chocolate wafer and let set.

     

    That is it.  Three ingredients and less than ten minutes to a plate full of delicious Chocolate Raspberry Cookies.  These cookies are perfect for Valentine's Day, but they are easy and impressive enough to make them year round.  Enjoy!



    3 Ingredient Chocolate Raspberry Cookies
    • 1 package Famous Chocolate Wafers
    • about 1/2 cup chocolate chips
    • raspberry jam
    1. Lay out wafers in pairs.
    2. Spread half of the wafers with jam.
    3. Melt chocolate chips in microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring well after each until melted and smooth.  Spread melted chocolate on remaining wafers.
    4. Sandwich jam and chocolate wafers together and let set. 


    I'm linking up with Two Cup Tuesday, Lou Lou Girls, Mad Skills, Tasty Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Crafty & Delicious, Create Link Inspire, Create It Thursday, Cook It Craft It Share It, Thrifty Thursday, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Creativity Unleashed, Pin Junkie, The Weekend Social, Link Party Palooza, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Best Recipes, Saturday Night Fever, Pinworthy Projects, Munching Mondays, Inspiration Monday, Mix It Up Monday, and Busy Monday.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015

    Glow Bracelet Valentines & FREE Printable


    I love Valentine's Day!  Any holiday centered around love, chocolate, and lots of pink is A-OK in my book.  That being said, I don't necessarily want my little ones having a ton of treats so I'm always looking for cute Valentine ideas that don't have candy.  Jake recently had a glow in the dark birthday party and we gave glow bracelets as favors.  I was looking at the favor tag I had made and realized that with a tiny tweak it would make the perfect Valentine.

    I found this great font that looks like a neon sign and made up a cute little Valentine tag. 

    Glow Bracelet Valentine Tag Printable

    Then I used my silhouette to cut out a neon scalloped edge circle to use as a backing.  If you don't have a silhouette, you could use a large craft punch, scissors, or just skip the backing all together.


    Glue the printed Valentine tag onto the neon backing.  Your child can sign their Valentines on the back.


    Use a hole punch to make a hole and then thread a black ribbon through it and tie the Valentine onto the glow bracelets.


    If you want to make it even more economical, instead of giving each child a tube of glow bracelets, you can just punch a hole on the bottom of the tag too and thread one glow bracelet through the Valentine tag.


    Either way you have an adorable, affordable, non-candy Valentine, perfect for your little one to give to their friends.


    I'm linking up with Two Cup Tuesday, Frugal Crafty Bloghop, Tasty Tuesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Crafty & Delicious, Create Link Inspire, Create It Thursday, Cook It Craft It Share It, Thrifty Thursday, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Creativity Unleashed, Pin Junkie, The Weekend Social, Link Party Palooza, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Best Recipes, Saturday Night Fever, Pinworthy Projects,
    Munching Mondays, Inspiration Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Craftastic Monday, and Busy Monday.
     

     


    Tuesday, January 20, 2015

    Cheesy Garlic Bread



    The Superbowl will be here in less than two weeks so it's time to start thinking about my favorite part of football games, the food.  We had some friends over this past weekend to watch the Packers game.  It was a rough afternoon in our house, but luckily we had delicious snacks to cushion the blow.  This Cheesy Garlic Bread was phenomenal!  I got the idea from Lauren's Latest and just made a few tweaks based on what I had on hand (and to make it easier on myself).  The ingredient list is blissfully short: refrigerated French Bread loaf, butter, garlic, basil, oregano, and cheese, lots of cheese.

    This Cheesy Garlic Bread is incredibly easy.  Pop open a tube of Pillsbury Crusty French Loaf dough, and put it on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Use a sharp knife to cut slits about 3/4 of the way down, about an inch apart all along the loaf.  Bake it at 350 until it is mostly done and starting to brown (I baked mine for 17 minutes).


    While your bread is baking grate 1/3 of a lb. of cheese (I used Trader Joe's cheddar gruyere blend but a white cheddar or a Dubliner would be great too).  To make the garlic butter, melt 1/3 of a stick of butter in a small dish in the microwave.  Add one clove of minced garlic along with some dried basil and oregano. 

    Pull the bread out of the oven and re-slice along all of the slits you made before you baked it.  You want the slits nice and deep because that is where you will be putting the garlic butter and cheese.


    Take that scrumptious garlic butter and brush it inside all of the slits and all over the top of the loaf.


    Then take the grated cheese and tuck it into all of the slits pushing it down as much as you can.  Sprinkle the remainder along the top, no cheese left behind. 


    Put it back in the oven until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.


    Less than 30 minutes to Cheesy Garlic Bread nirvana!  This Cheesy Garlic Bread is the perfect party appetizer for any occasion, but it just screams football food to me.  Add this to your Superbowl menu.  Your guests will be impressed, your taste buds will thank you, and you can spend your time watching the game instead of working in the kitchen.


    Cheesy Garlic Bread
    • 1 tube Pillsbury Crusty French Loaf dough
    • 3 tbls. butter 
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
    • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
    • 1/3 lb. Cheddar Gruyere blend (White Cheddar or Dubliner are good substitutes), grated
    1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Open tube of dough and make slits 3/4 of the way down, about 1-inch apart, all along the loaf.  Bake until almost done and starting to brown, about 17 minutes.
    3. While bread bakes make garlic butter: Melt butter.  Mince garlic and add to butter along with oregano and basil.
    4. Re-cut all of the slits in the bread.  Brush garlic butter into the slits and all along the top of the loaf.  Press grated cheese into all of the slits and sprinkle the remainder on top.
    5. Return to oven and bake 5 more minutes, until bread is cooked through and cheese is melted.

    I'm linking up with Tasty Tuesday, Two Cup Tuesday, Whimsy Wednesdays, Wednesday Whatsits, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Create It Thursday, Cook It Craft It Share It, Crafty and Delicious, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Creativity Unleashed, Pin Junkie, and Weekend Social, Pinworthy Projects, Best Recipes, Best of the Weekend, Link Party Palooza, Saturday Night Fever, Weekend Potluck, Inspiration Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Craftastic Monday, Busy Monday, and Munching Mondays.