Friday, December 15, 2017

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Mexican wedding cake cookies


It's cookie time!! I mean, it's always kind of cookie time, but now it's Christmas cookie time!! There are a lot of cookie recipes on this blog. A lot (over 40 as of now). I try to post at least one new cookie recipe for the holidays each year and so far I've been pretty successful with that. Somehow over the years, this classic Christmas cookie has escaped making it onto the blog. I made Chocolate Chip Snowball Cookies previously using the same base recipe, but this is the classic version. This recipe comes from my great-grandmother. These were a cookie she made every year that I can remember. Although I know she didn't create them as Mexican Wedding Cakes and Russian Tea Cakes are super popular and very similar cookies that you'll find everywhere. My family has always made them with walnuts as I did with this recipe, but pecans would work well, too. The only change I make from hers is giving the walnuts a light toast before adding them to the dough to make them extra flavorful. These cookies definitely remind me of family and of being a kid at Christmas. My mom frequently made them as well when I was a kid and I always helped her with the holiday baking. I just love when food evokes memories. These photos also hold a couple nostalgia pieces - the cookie tray my brother and I used for Santa's cookies and a tablecloth that belonged to my Grandmother.

If you haven't tried these cookies, this is the year for you to add them to your cookie tray. They are super simple in both ingredients and effort, which is a bonus this time of year! This recipe will make about 2-1/2 dozen cookies.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Whole wheat squash & cranberry muffins


Hearty muffins full of winter squash puree, whole wheat flour, fresh cranberries, and warming spices are a delicious breakfast treat or snack with a steamy cup of coffee or tea. These are also a tasty muffin for toddlers. I've been working on some healthier muffins for my kids who are now 16 months old. They love things like pancakes and muffins, so I try to make them with overall less sugar and less oil/butter and to incorporate fruits and vegetables into them. I've posted many muffin recipes in the past including these banana spinach oat blender muffins and these applesauce barley infant cereal muffins for toddlers. Since our twins have been really loving cranberries lately, I bought up a few bags of fresh ones while they are available. I know I wanted to make them a muffin with some of the cranberries. And, since we have a bunch of winter squash, I thought that would make a nice seasonal combination. I based these muffins off of my pumpkin streusel muffins recipe. These muffins make a terrific breakfast with some scrambled eggs or they make a delicious portable snack. Let's just say they were a hit with all of us! Slightly sweet with a touch of spice and tangy pops of cranberry.

This recipe will make one dozen muffins. They are a festive addition to a holiday breakfast - fall or winter!


Friday, December 1, 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Turkey, sweet potato, & quinoa chili


Ground turkey, sweet potatoes, peppers, corn, beans, and quinoa all come together in this super hearty and healthy dish! This 'chili' is something I threw together once to use up some odds and ends of produce and it has turned into an almost weekly staple meal in our home now. It's full of so many good-for-you ingredients and is very hearty and flavorful. What I also love is that my 16 month old twins will eat it. Their least favorite part is probably the turkey, but they love sweet potatoes, corn, and beans, so they will usually eat everything else in it -- especially if I give them a bit of cheese or a dollop of sour cream. I swear I could put sour cream on pretty much anything and my son would gobble it up!

Another thing about this chili is that it is flexible. These are the ingredients and flavors I most commonly use, but you can switch them up with delicious results. For example -- use chicken or ground beef or extra beans instead of turkey; sub pinto beans for the black beans; green onions instead of red onions; poblano peppers instead of bell, butternut squash instead of sweet potato; vegetable broth or water in place of the chicken stock; add jalapeno or cayenne pepper for a kick (I would do this for just my husband and I, but not the toddlers)... This recipe will make about 6 servings. I like to serve it with grated cheddar or jack cheese, sour cream, cilantro, and even some corn chips if you have them.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Cranberry custard pie


This year I was looking for a new pie recipe for Thanksgiving to change things up a little bit. My twins and I love cranberries and as I noted in my last recipe post, I'm trying to make use of cranberries more in my recipes. I've made a cranberry apple pie before, but I wanted cranberries to really be the star of the pie. I also didn't want it to be overpowering with the tartness of cranberries. I found this recipe and I used it as a guide for the below recipe. The sweet custard off-sets the tartness nicely and provides a tasty way to hold the cranberries all together. My family enjoyed it a lot and because cranberries continue to be a part of the holidays, I'm posting this for a lovely and different Christmas or other winter holiday dessert. The cranberries make the color perfect for the holidays! Plus it's a really easy pie to put together. Everyone was remarking about how pretty the pie looked. I'd definitely include it with any holiday meal or whenever I have an excuse to make pie throughout cranberry season.


Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Cranberry apple crisp


Traditional apple crisp is enhanced by the addition of tart little cranberries in this dessert. We are almost finished with our apple haul from our picking trip this year, but we had some Rhode Island Greenings hanging out in the fridge, which are perfect for desserts like pies and crisps. Apple crisp is always a must-have during the fall season for us. But, as we approach late fall or get close to winter and I see fresh cranberries appear in the store, I become compelled to put them in more things besides cranberry sauce. I feel like cranberries are often overlooked, but completely delicious (and also so pretty.) I think I've inspired myself to try to use them more frequently. Maybe that will be a winter mission for me this year! Cranberries in everything! They do pair really perfectly with apples like in this dessert (or in this pie.) This would be a simple dessert to make for Thanksgiving or the holidays if you don't feel like making a pie crust. This dessert will feed about six people. Serve it as is or with a dollop of whipped cream or scoop of vanilla ice cream while it is still warm for an extra-special treat.


Friday, November 10, 2017

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Slow cooker ranch chicken & rice bowls


The slow cooker is my food best friend lately. I've been using it several times a week. It does, of course, require menu planning so that I know what to thaw, put in the slow cooker in the morning, and what ingredients I need to have on hand. But as a frugal mom of toddler twins, it's essential for me to plan ahead so that our meals go as smoothly as possible and I resist the temptation to order take out. I also like versatile dishes where I can use up some things in the fridge and pantry to create a delicious meal like this ranch chicken. It's versatile because you can add or remove vegetables based on what you have. I use chicken, corn, peppers, and onions - you can use any/all of these and/or others like black beans, pinto beans, jalapeno, green onions, etc. I topped mine with cilantro, cheddar, salsa, and sour cream, but other options are avocado, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, pickled jalapenos, etc. It's also nice served with a side of corn chips (or sprinkle crumbs from the bottom of the bag on top for a little crunch). You can also wrap it up in a burrito shell! Easy family friendly meals like this are what work in our life right now. This recipe will serve about four people, but can easily vary (stretch it with beans or make more rice).


Friday, November 3, 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

Jack O' Lantern cheese quesadillas


Are you looking for a fun, simple, and kid-friendly Halloween meal? Look no further than these cheese-filled quesadillas! You simply "carve" your Jack O' Lantern face into a tortilla, fill it with cheese, and pop it in the oven. These will be a hit for a quick Halloween dinner or lunch for kids and all Halloween lovers (like me)! I like to serve these with a side of salsa and sour cream or guacamole as well as some fresh vegetables because you can use slices of green bell pepper (or an avocado) to give your pumpkin a stem. They also go well with a bowl of tomato soup which is perfect if it's going to be a chilly Halloween.

The below recipe is per quesadilla. You can make as many as you need or want for your family. I can fit two quesadillas on a standard baking sheet and bake two trays side by side in the oven. The longest part of this meal prep is making your Jack O' Lantern faces. I like to lay a tortilla on a large wooden cutting board and cut with the point of a sharp paring knife. You can toast up the leftover carving pieces and dip them in your soup or salsa as well. I use a mix of sharp orange cheddar cheese (for color and flavor) and mozzarella (because it melts well and gives it the "gooey" factor). You can use whatever cheeses you like best, but try to use some orange.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

November Meal Plan

It's time for the November Monthly Meal Plan Menu and that means Thanksgiving recipe ideas! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. I am already getting excited for the food and thinking about our menu. Here are some great ideas!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday, October 20, 2017

October 20th Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

friday frenzy link party 
Welcome to the Friday Frenzy, the Best Food and Craft Link Party on the Web. Why is it the best?

Hot chocolate pancakes #Choctoberfest


Disclosure: Imperial Sugar is a gold sponsor of #Choctoberfest and provided me with sugar. All opinions expressed are my own.

This is my last #Choctoberfest 2017 recipe, but it's a goodie! I hope you have been enjoying all the delicious chocolate recipes this week and that you remembered to enter the sweet giveaway (link at the bottom of the post). This recipe is for a sweet chocolaty breakfast treat for your family! Hot Chocolate Pancakes are lovely for the holidays, or Valentine's Day, or anytime you need a special breakfast for the chocolate lovers in your life. I feel like these pancakes require a side of bacon or breakfast sausages to contrast all the sweetness. They are also flexible -- you can tailor them to be like your favorite hot chocolate. I topped mine with mini marshmallows, powdered sugar, and real maple syrup. However, you can use hot fudge or chocolate sauce for extra chocolaty goodness, add a touch of cinnamon to the batter or sprinkled on top, or put some peppermint extract in the batter -- whatever you like in your hot chocolate.

This recipe will serve about 4 people. Thanks to Imperial Sugar for inspiring me to make some delicious chocolate treats this week! Check out other sweet seasonal recipes on Imperial Sugar's website.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sweet potato brownies #Choctoberfest


Disclosure: Imperial Sugar is a gold sponsor of #Choctoberfest and provided me with sugar. All opinions expressed are my own.

Guys, can you believe all the amazing chocolate recipes there are for #Choctoberfest already?! I hope you are all following along this week with our hashtag on all your favorite social media platforms. I'm excited to share my next recipe with you today -- Sweet Potato Brownies! Pumpkins are amazing and all, but sweet potatoes deserve fall love, too. They can be used in a lot of baked goods which may normally call for pumpkin. But, the humble sweet potato is often overlooked (except for its amazing pie). So, let's change that by using it in more delicious treats like these brownies. These brownies have a sweet potato topping gently swirled into the top of the brownies as well as a bit of sweet potato in the brownie batter itself. They are super moist, sweet with a touch of warm spices, and chocolaty, too. Plus their colors make them fun for Halloween party treats! Thanks to Imperial Sugar for inspiring these brownies which will certainly become a fall favorite for our family. In case you missed my Instagram post when I received my sugar, my little goblins were excited to help me out in the kitchen and to be taste testers for these yummy brownies!


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Spooky double chocolate eyeball cookies #Choctoberfest


Disclosure: I received a complimentary container of Gourmet Baking Cocoa from Rodelle, a #Chocotoberfest sponsor. I was not required to make a recipe or post a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Eye, I mean, I always feel like somebody's watching me..... I'm kicking off #Choctoberfest with these fun and spooky cookies! Not only are they fun and spooky, but they are also super tasty! I made these cookies with Rodelle's Gourmet Baking Cocoa. Their cocoa is Dutch-processed making it very rich and dark (as you can see from the cookies - they turned out perfect for Halloween). My husband and I both couldn't stop smelling the cookie batter and the cookies themselves once they were baked because the chocolaty aroma was addictive! The flavor was unmatched to some of the cheaper grocery store cocoa powders I've used in the past.

These cookies were made for our annual family apple picking day. Each year I make a treat, usually some sort of pumpkin cookie (chocolate chip, oatmeal, snickerdoodle, just to name a few), but this year I surprised everyone with something different and they were a hit! The kids liked the eyeballs (you can leave these off if you so choose - they are just for fun, but the cookies are amazing without them). Take these to a Halloween party or on a fall outing with family or friends! It's like eyes are peering at you through the dark autumn night. I modified this recipe and the below version will make about three dozen cookies.


Monday, October 16, 2017

#Choctoberfest 2017 Welcome & Giveaway!

Choctoberfest-2015-2 
Today is one of my favorite days of the year, because it is the official start of #Choctoberfest. This is the third annual food blogger celebration of all things chocolate, made possible thanks to our gold sponsor Imperial Sugar and the other sponsors listed below. Over 70 bloggers are participating in #Choctoberfest 2017 and will be posting 200+ chocolate recipes over the next week. Keep your eyes peeled, visit any of the blogs listed below, or use the #Choctoberfest hashtag on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to follow along. You can also check out our #Choctoberfest Pinterest board, where we post chocolate recipes all year long. You can also enter to win our #Choctoberfest prize pack. Thank to our amazing sponsors who are contributing the following items for the prize:

Friday, October 13, 2017

Monday, October 9, 2017

Banana spinach oat blender muffins


It's been a while now since I posted a baby and/or toddler food recipe. This is mostly because my twins are now pretty much eating what we eat most of the time. However, now that they are toddlers, they are starting to show some food preferences. They are still pretty excellent eaters, but I will never miss an opportunity to get a little more good stuff into them however I can (especially when lately more vegetables end up on the floor rather than into little mouths). I found this recipe recently and used it as a guide for making these muffins. Let me tell you how tasty these muffins are -- so yummy! Sweet from the banana, a little earthy from the spinach and flax, and a touch of warm spice from nutmeg and cinnamon. Nutmeg is a spice I love with bananas and I frequently use with greens, so it was a must-have in these. I love the vibrant green color from the (pretty much liquefied) spinach! It makes them so pretty. They would be fun for Halloween as well (maybe add some dark chocolate chips). These muffins have been twin tested and approved, but they are great for the whole family. This recipe will make about 16 muffins.


Friday, October 6, 2017

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Slow cooker eggplant "baked" ziti


This ziti is "baked" because well, it's not baked.... But, it is just like the baked ziti you know and love, except it is made in your slow cooker rather than the oven. I love my slow cooker so much. I use it all year round and to make all kinds of dishes. I've seen a lot of recipes for slow cooker baked ziti over the years. This version uses eggplant because we often have a lot of it this time of year and also because I like to add extra vegetables where I can. The eggplant also adds extra moisture to the dish. What I like about making "baked" ziti in the slow cooker is that when it's done cooking you can put it on warm and serve it at a party or potluck, or, like me, when your family sometimes needs to eat dinner at different times of the evening, and it will still be warm to eat. This recipe will feed about 6-8 people. Serve it with a side of garlic bread and/or a side salad to stretch it even more.

A note on cooking pasta in the slow cooker like this - it won't taste exactly the same as when you boil the pasta and then add it to the sauce. Cooking it together in the sauce, the pasta will retain more of a starchy flavor. This is not something that we mind, but some people may. I use a 4 quart slow cooker and this recipe just fits in it perfectly. Cooking time will vary a little depending on your slow cooker.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

October dessert plan

Hi everyone! It's almost time for my favorite month of the year: October!! Halloween, apple picking, pumpkins, crisp colored leaves, cooler weather, apple cider, and all that fun stuff! Get ready with all these fun and spooky dessert and treat ideas!

092417 October-main

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Honey cheddar beer bread w/ honey butter


September's Fantastical Food Fight theme is: HONEY! I was really excited when I saw this month's theme because we really love honey around this house. We've been avoiding it over the past year since it's not safe for babies to eat until one year of age, but now our twins are over that so I can incorporate honey into my food and cooking again. I was going to make a dessert, but then I was leaning toward something more savory and decided since we had chili on our meal plan menu this week that a beer bread with honey would be perfect. Also, honey butter because, yum! Beer bread is such a quick side dish to whip up during soup and chili season. You'll have a quick, easy, and hearty side dish. Use a light colored beer (I used a lager) that doesn't have a super strong flavor so you don't overpower the bread. I based my recipe off of this one because I was intrigued by the addition of melted butter into the baking pan which I don't usually do when I make beer bread. It turned out delicious! This recipe will make one loaf of bread.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Baked pumpkin oatmeal


A warm and inviting autumn breakfast - baked pumpkin oatmeal is delicious and easy, plus it makes your house smell like fall! My current obsession with baked oatmeal continues with this fall flavored version. Just last month I posted two baked oatmeal recipes - peanut butter and zucchini bread. We've been eating these a couple of times a week because all four of us love them. I knew a pumpkin version was in my future because pumpkin is amazing and also it's almost time for all things pumpkin also known as FALL! My favorite time of the year! We had a streak of cooler days, but now we are back to more summer-like weather, but cooler nights. Our big maple tree is starting to turn orange and red. We now have pumpkins and mums on our front stoop and I hung up a Halloween banner on the front door. So, I'm ready for fall-mode now! Let the apple picking, pumpkin spicing, blanket snuggling, leaf peeping, and everything else fall-fun related begin! First up, a tasty hearty breakfast.


Friday, September 8, 2017

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Chocolate chip zucchini banana muffins


Banana bread and zucchini bread collide in these ultra-moist muffins studded with mini chocolate chips. Well, folks, another summer is winding down. Fall is the season I look forward to most every year. I love living somewhere with four distinct seasons (even if they have been getting a little muddled the past few years). This year though, I'm feeling a little disappointed and a touch sad that summer is over. My babies' first birthday has already come and gone. They are growing so quickly. I think maybe it's something to do with finally having children, but I'm more acutely aware than ever of the swift passage of time. Time is our most precious non-renewable resource. I want to soak up every minute with my children because they are growing and changing so much every day it seems. At the same time, some days I'm counting down the hours or minutes until my husband comes home or until nap time haha. The odd dichotomy of motherhood. I'm looking forward to doing fall activities with them this year though like apple picking, pumpkin picking, playing in the leaves, etc.

This may be my last zucchini recipe for this summer's zucchini season, but it's a great one! If you have zucchini lingering, give these tasty muffins a try. You won't be disappointed. This recipe will be 12 standard sized muffins.


Monday, September 4, 2017

One pan stuffed peppers skillet


Stuffed peppers were always a late summer staple in my house growing up. My mom made them probably every year with peppers from our garden. I think she always froze a couple batches too for easy winter time dinners. They were always a meal everyone enjoyed! This version takes a lot of the leg work out of the meal, but still gives you all the stuffed pepper flavors in a one-pan dinner. Yes, one pan is all you need - no separate pot to cook the meat, separate pot to cook the rice, and then separate baking dish -- all one skillet! I used ground turkey in this version, but you can use the traditional ground beef, of course. My mom never put cheese on our stuffed peppers, but I thought it would be a nice touch for this version. This dish will serve 5-6 people. Add a side of crusty bread, if desired.