Monday, August 21, 2017

Baked zucchini bread oatmeal

The flavors of zucchini bread baked into your morning oatmeal! I am on a bit of a baked oatmeal kick lately. It started with the peanut butter one that I posted on a couple of weeks ago and now we are onto zucchini. With fall coming, I see many more versions (pumpkin! sweet potato! apple!) making an appearance in our kitchen and in our bellies in the near future. This time of year, many people are trying to find ways to use up their zucchinis. We love zucchini bread, and I figured that it would make a delicious baked oatmeal as well. Also, as I've mentioned before, we are always looking for meals that our twins can easily feel themselves. This method makes it easier for them to get the oatmeal into their mouths all by themselves (because they aren't fans of being spoon fed anymore). This zucchini version was a hit with all of us! We like to serve ours scooped into a bowl with a little milk, or just cut into a square for the little ones.

Friday, August 18, 2017

August 18th Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

Friday Frenzy
Welcome to the Friday Frenzy, the Best Food and Craft Link Party on the Web. Why is it the best?
  1. Well when you link your favorite posts to the Friday Frenzy your posts will be seen across 9 blogs, for NINE TIMES the exposure.
  2. We ask all linkers to pin the featured posts of the week for even more exposure
  3. Our host bloggers are all part of an inclusive and support group on Facebook, we welcome all bloggers big or small and we actively promote other bloggers, so bring on your best links

Monday, August 14, 2017

Cheesy Italian zucchini & turkey casserole

Zucchini season is upon us. In this dish, zucchini is used to make a cheesy base for the casserole topped with ground turkey, spaghetti sauce, vegetables, and more cheese. You will see similar versions called a Zucchini Pizza Casserole, but to me there is nothing pizza-ish about this casserole. My version uses the same base idea, but the toppings are different. Maybe more like a spaghetti bake? I don't know. So I'm just calling this version a Cheesy Italian Zucchini & Turkey Casserole. Naming dishes can be tricky sometimes. Too wordy? Not an adequate description? Haha, I don't know. I do know that this dish was a huge hit in our family and was even completely gobbled up by two one year olds, so that's a win for me! Whatever you call it, it's delicious! It's definitely a keeper and a way to use up some of your garden's zucchini. This recipe will serve about four to five people as a main dish. Serve with a loaf of crusty bread and/or a side salad to stretch it a bit more.

We are usually inundated with zucchini at this time of year, but the odd weather has left many in our area with gardens that aren't producing as well as they usually do. So, I actually *gasp* bought zucchini from a farm stand. It almost didn't feel right!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Monday, August 7, 2017

Applesauce barley infant cereal mini muffins

I've been on a quest lately to perfect a mini muffin recipe for my one-year old twins that uses up some of our leftover opened containers of infant cereal. I guess there comes a point where all babies start to reject the baby cereal and/or being spoon-fed, and we hit ours a month or so ago. Since I'm striving to be a frugal mama and really loathe food waste, I have been looking for ways to use up what we have opened instead of throwing it away. I've made a few batches and they turned out just OK... The cereal soaks up a bunch of moisture, so you need to get a good ratio of flour to cereal and also liquid to dry ingredients. They still ate them, but I wasn't satisfied with the results until this version. Keep in mind, these aren't bakery muffins - they aren't super pretty, they are a little bumpy, and they don't rise a ton, but they are a great way to use up your baby cereal and to give your toddlers a finger food to feed themselves. I used barley cereal, which was my twins' favorite, but you should be able to sub oatmeal, rice, or multigrain versions. I give these to them whole and they are soft enough that they can easily take bites or break pieces off to eat themselves. This recipe will make approximately 22 mini muffins. I like to give them one as a snack, or a couple with some cut up fruit for an easy breakfast.

Friday, August 4, 2017

August 4th Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

Friday Frenzy

Welcome to the Friday Frenzy Link Party

You've just joined the Best Food and Craft Link Party on the Web and we are so glad to have you here!!! 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Baked peanut butter oatmeal

Creamy peanut butter, oats, brown sugar, and a touch of cinnamon baking in the morning will make your whole house smell wonderful. Lately I've been on a quest for easy and nutritious breakfasts that my twins (and my husband and I) will eat. They love scrambled eggs with vegetables, pancakes, and cut up fruit, but they've recently become resistant to being fed from a spoon and don't have much interest in learning it for themselves yet. So oatmeal, cream of wheat, and other hot cereals they used to eat are becoming harder. They will still take yogurt though - they love yogurt! I decided to try out baked oatmeal with them so that they are still eating the oats, but can pick it up themselves. This peanut butter one is a hit with the whole family. The peanut butter flavor is perfect with the lightly sweetened oats. The twins ate theirs cut into a square with some halved blueberries and my husband and I ate it scooped into a bowl with blueberries and milk. We ate it cold cut into squares again the next day. It's slightly crumbly, but also very soft so it's great for toddlers. This recipe will serve about 4-6 people, depending on age and hunger level.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

August Meal Plan

It's the last Sunday of the month, so that means it's time for the monthly meal plan. Here are some recipes for August - easy dinners and breakfasts for back to school time!

August Meal Plan-main 

Friday, July 28, 2017

July 28th Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

Friday Frenzy

Welcome to the Friday Frenzy, the Best Food and Craft Link Party on the Web. 
Why is it the best?
  1. Well when you link your favorite posts to the Friday Frenzy your posts will be seen across 9 blogs, for NINE TIMES the exposure.
  2. We ask all linkers to pin the featured posts of the week for even more exposure
  3. Our host bloggers are all part of an inclusive and support group on Facebook, we welcome all bloggers big or small and we actively promote other bloggers, so bring on your best links

Monday, July 24, 2017

Three-cheese turkey & spinach mac

Ground turkey and fresh spinach are added to this stovetop macaroni and cheese, making it a more nutritious meal and also extra tasty. My twins are turning one this week!! I can't believe it. This past year has been amazing and crazy and a whirlwind. It's true what everyone tells you - the days can be long, but the weeks are fast. It's so cool to watch them grow and change. They are learning new things all the time. I love watching them interact with each other (when they aren't hurting one another) and seeing their very different personalities develop. So far we've been lucky in that they both love, love food and eating. So I'm always trying to come up with baby and toddler foods that they will enjoy and also can eat/chew safely. This meal was a big hit for them as well as my husband and I. I love meals that are all-in-one. Just put a couple scoops in a bowl and you're good to go. This meal will easily feed about 5-6 people. So if you are like us you will get a bunch of lunch leftovers.

Enjoying our dinner!

Friday, July 21, 2017

July 21st Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

Welcome to the Friday Frenzy!!

The Best Food and Craft Link Party on the Web. Why is it the best?

  • When you link your favorite posts to the Friday Frenzy your posts will be seen across 9 blogs, for NINE TIMES the exposure
  • We ask all linkers to pin the featured posts of the week for even more exposure
  • Our host bloggers are all part of a blogging support group on Facebook. We welcome all bloggers, big or small, and we actively promote other bloggers, so bring on your best links!!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Menu planning for frugal living

Our grocery and menu board always hangs on the side of the refrigerator. It's not a pretty or fancy board or photo, it's real life here.

Last week I posted about how I am striving to be a frugal mama and I thought I'd expand a little bit on some of the topics in their own posts. First up is menu planning. Not the most exciting of topics, I get it. But, it's crucial to saving money when you are living on a budget and/or aspiring to not waste money. If you don't have a menu plan, likely you will end up eating out/ordering take-out more frequently, throwing away food more frequently, and going to the grocery store more than necessary. We have this ultra-fancy (haha) little white board that lives on the side of our fridge. When we are getting close to running out of a pantry or fridge staple, or think of something we would like, it goes on the grocery side. This way, we are rarely caught off-guard running out of something and I don't have to spend much time thinking or checking if we need items when I make the grocery list.

Friday, July 14, 2017

July 14th Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

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

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Lemon pudding cookies

Lightly sweetened lemon cookies with a drizzle of very lemony glaze are a perfect cookie for summer picnics and potlucks. I made these little cookies to take to a gathering we had to watch a parade on the 4th of July. They were a hit and even my twins got to try a couple bites! They enjoyed their first parade. I wasn't quite sure how they would react with all the loud noise, etc. but they had fun. They only jumped a couple times when the fire trucks blew their horns. I was glad about that because sometimes they have a hard time in new places or when there are a lot of people around. Cookies make things better though, I suppose!

This recipe makes about three dozen cookies, so it's great when you need to bring something to a picnic or party. I was thinking of a cookie with a bit of a lemonade flavor when I decided to try these. I modified this recipe as written below. I think the cookies tasted better the next 1-2 days after baking because the lemon flavor had more time to really permeate through the dough. The glaze is a must - it's where a lot of the lemon flavor lives, so don't skip it!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Striving to be a frugal mama

Some of our cloth diaper stash drying out on the line.

I'm taking a little break from recipe posting today. Today I'm going to talk about my life as a frugal mama of twins. Or, at least ways I'm striving to be a frugal mama. Before the twins, my husband and I were already Mr. Money Mustache followers. We were working hard to pay down our student loan debt while saving for a house. We started tracking every single penny that came in or out of our household (we still do this) to identify areas that needed improvement while also holding ourselves more accountable for random spending (you'd be amazed how much this can change your outlook on money and spending habits). We dropped our expensive phone plans and switched to Ting, we cut the cable cord and streamed Netflix, restaurants and take-out became for special occasions only, and so on. All of these changes helped us immensely to pay down our student loans and stash cash. On the flip side, we were also spending quite a bit of money trying to build our family. But, we were okay with that because it was a priority for our lives. All of these changes allowed us to buy a home (and just in time as we found out a couple months later that twins were in our future!!). Fast forward to me becoming a stay-at-home mom after my grant-funded job ended the same month our twins were due; our need to really ramp up our frugal skills emerged! My husband and I both work in the environmental field - so not the most lucrative or stable job market. So, we decided that I'd stay with the twins and see how it went since the timing worked out well with my job ending and because daycare for two infants is extremely costly. It's been almost a year and it's both amazing and difficult being home with them! I'm so glad to have this time with them, but I do sometimes miss my work. I'm not sure what the future holds on that, but these are some things I've learned as I strive to be a frugal mama.

Friday, July 7, 2017

July 7th Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

Friday Frenzy

Happy Friday, everyone! Can you believe it's July already?! I can't. This year is flying by! Summer weather is finally in full swing here in WNY and that means the summer produce is coming as well. Please check out the link party and link-up your favorite posts from this past week!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Toddler quinoa, broccoli, & cheddar bites

These little bites are a perfect size for toddler hands, but also make a fun and tasty adult side/snack. As with all my baby/toddler recipes, they have been twin tested and approved. Except this was was only approved by one. The other was unsure about these.... So, I'm not sure if it was the texture or what because she likes broccoli, quinoa, and cheese.... but I guess not in this form. These are definitely for older toddlers with some good experience chewing and probably a few teeth. The baking makes the outsides slightly crunchy/chewy, but the inside remains soft. I froze these to reheat for a quick meal. Since it makes about 15 pieces, you may want to store them in the freezer (or just eat up the rest yourself). The microwave is probably your best bet for reheating to keep them soft and to not dry out (the quinoa and cheese may get too crunchy), but I have also used the oven. Let them thaw out in the refrigerator overnight before re-heating to serve. These are a little hand held meal!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Cowboy beans

I hope everyone is enjoying #CookoutWeek 2017 and finding tons of amazing recipes for your summer cookouts and picnics! Don't forget to enter to win our awesome giveaways for your summer cookout needs and more. Today, I'm sharing an over-the-top bean recipe for your next cookout. It's over-the-top because it contains not only four different types of beans*, but also beef and bacon. These beans are a hearty, sweet, stick-to-your-ribs side dish that feeds a crowd and is always a win! There are a lot of different versions of these types of bean dishes with many different names, but I like the name cowboy beans as they remind me of something one would eat while sitting around a campfire. They go perfectly with barbeque chicken, burgers, hot dogs (pro-tip: spoon some on top of your hot dog with a bit of mustard), and more! 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Smoked shrimp & avocado tacos

#CookoutWeek is here and I'm super excited to be participating with so many amazing bloggers. Grilling, cookouts, picnics, and eating outside are all quintessential summer activities. I can't wait to see all the terrific recipes everyone shares this week.

First up, I'm sharing these Smoked Shrimp & Avocado Tacos made with the help of Smokin' O's. My husband is the grill master here, so he helped me with this recipe and we were both really looking forward to trying these out. We don't have a smoker, but we do enjoy smoke flavor, so this was a perfect product for us. We used the Applewood Smokin' O's for these tacos and they turned out amazing!! The smoke flavor was prominent, but not at all overpowering. I wasn't sure if the smoke flavor would penetrate the shrimp since they don't cook for too long, but they were perfect! The Smokin' O's were so simple to use and we will be using them a lot! We already have more ideas, so be on the look-out for those. Tacos are a year-round staple for us and I love that we can make them on the grill now, too!

This taco recipe will serve two people. It's perfect for a weeknight cookout for two, or it's super simple to double or even triple! 

Check out my video of a Smokin' O in action on the grill while making this recipe!

Monday, June 26, 2017

#CookoutWeek Welcome & Giveaway Information

Get those grills fired up... because it's #CookoutWeek 2017! This week, I'm joining forces with over 40 food blogger friends to bring you delicious recipes perfect for every backyard BBQ, picnic, summer party, or cookout. We also have a fabulous giveaway featuring products from the brands who have made #CookoutWeek possible! You can enter below to win:

Sunday, June 25, 2017

July Meal Plan

It's time for July's meal plan menu which consists of recipes that are patriotic and/or cookout appropriate for the July 4th holiday, or any summer picnics you have coming up. Please check out all the recipes below. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

June 23rd Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

Happy Friday, everyone! Since it's Friday, that means it's Friday Frenzy time! Please check out our favorite link-ups from last week and share what you've been doing this week!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Skillet peaches & cream pork chops

I've missed a couple of months of the Fantastical Food Fight recently, but I'm back this month to join in the Peaches & Cream food fight! As soon as I saw the theme, I knew I wanted to go savory with my recipe. We have a lot of pork in our freezer (which we just cleaned and re-organized) from our half pig, so while thinking about what to make, this dish sprung to mind. I wasn't completely sure it would come out good, to be honest..... But, it came out even better than I thought! Both my husband and I enjoyed it a lot. I made this dish with just two pork chops as our twins are not quite up to pork chop level yet; however, you can easily add two more to your skillet along with more peaches. There will be plenty of sauce. I served these with a side of couscous and peas. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

June 16th Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

Friday Frenzy

Hi, everyone! I slacked a bit this week with blog posts. Not intentionally. I thought that the Fantastical Food Fight was this week, not next week, so I had that post all ready to go until I caught my error. Oh well.... I'd like to say I'm talented enough to whip up something else post-worthy, but these days not so much haha. #twinsaremyexcuseforeverything. Anyways, I hope some of my fellow bloggers out there will link up to the Friday Frenzy! It's a great way to have fun and get more exposure. Here's this week post: 

Happy, happy Friday! Kelly here from Kelly Lynn's Sweets and Treats and I am writing this week's link party post...which means I get to pick out some of my favorite posts that were linked up last week, to share with you! Let's get on to the party....

Friday, June 9, 2017

June 9th Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

Friday Frenzy

I'm excited to be joining the Friday Frenzy link party! You will be finding this post on my blog every Friday now along with all these other amazing bloggers pictured above. If you are a fellow blogger, please link up a favorite post (or two) below. Enjoy your weekend, everyone! 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Toddler pumpkin and banana egg pancakes

I have one more post right now in the baby/toddler food series and then I'll be back to some more of my regular food recipes (for a little while at least). I swear! I feel like I'm learning to cook all over again lately. Since our twins are starting to like more table and finger foods, I try to come up meals that all of us can eat when my husband is home for dinner. That can be challenging still though, but they have been eating small pastas, soft vegetables, eggs, salmon, potatoes, meatballs, and other things like that. They still eat chunkier purees, especially for breakfast and lunch (and they still love Greek yogurt and cereal, especially barley). Around the web, banana egg "pancakes" are a very popular baby/toddler food. I always see moms recommending them in groups and such. I have no idea where they originated, but they are a great idea - easy, simple, and healthy. Plus they have a perfectly soft and spongy texture (they are not like a regular pancake) that make them easy for eating. The "recipe" is just mashing one ripe banana with a fork and then beating in an egg and cooking like pancakes. See - super easy! Our twins like them a lot. But, of course, I wanted to put a little spin on them and after finding one lone can of pumpkin in the pantry, I knew what to try. This recipe makes about 12 little "pancakes" (about 2 servings). 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Toddler turkey, carrot, and apple meatballs

I can't believe my babies are already 10 months old! They are getting so big and learning so many new things all the time. They like being outside right now and going for walks in the stroller. We recently tried the baby swings at the park, which they really enjoyed. But, what they really love right now is food. They are interested in trying everything and want to grab and eat all that they see! They still like their homemade purées, especially with oatmeal or whole milk Greek yogurt. They prefer chunkier foods now though and are trying more finger and table foods all the time. I bought some frozen turkey meatballs and they really enjoyed those, so I decided to make a homemade version that is a little healthier for them. I still cut/break up these meatballs into smaller pieces for them at this point. They are picking up those pieces and feeding themselves.... a messy, but fun, time.

This recipe will make about 27ish meatballs. You can freeze them (place on a clean baking sheet in the freezer just until frozen and then place them all in a freezer bag) and then defrost in the refrigerator as needed. Heat them up in the oven or microwave, or even in an alfredo sauce. They can be eaten cold as well. The spices below are what I used, but you can use so many others like thyme, nutmeg, allspice, parsley, coriander, ginger, and others -- whatever flavors and combinations you want! They are also delicious for adults too - I've popped more than one in my mouth! 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

June Meal Plan

It's time for the June Menu Plan, which is really a June dessert plan! We have a bunch of tasty no-bake treats for you to enjoy as you kick-off the summer. Check them out below!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Rhubarb sour cream bread

I hear you, more rhubarb??! Well, yes, more rhubarb. It's in season right now (and not much else is yet) and I have a whole bag of it and it's delicious! I love making quick breads from all sorts of produce. I mean, it's basically a giant muffin, or a loaf shaped cake, so of course quick breads are delicious. I always try to cut back on sugar in them so they are a little less cake-like and a little more breakfast worthy.... I usually like to have a thick slice with coffee and scrambled eggs for breakfast to even out the sweetness a little. The tangy rhubarb, sour cream, and ground ginger in this loaf definitely help as well. We just got two rhubarb roots to plant, so I foresee many more rhubarb recipes to come in the future as well -- well, in a few years because that's how long it will take before our own will be ready to be harvested. Maybe my next recipe post will be something other than rhubarb (or baby food haha). Maybe....

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Rhubarb custard shortbread bars

I had a lovely first Mother's Day this past weekend. Mother's Day used to be a very difficult day for me, but this year was different because I had my two amazing babies to spend it with along with my husband and our families. We had a picnic lunch this year that was interrupted by some rain, but otherwise it was a beautiful day. I made these rhubarb custard shortbread bars for a dessert (adapted from this recipe) and they were a hit. These bars are decadent and I've lightened them up a bit on the sugar and fat from the original recipe. They have a shortbread crust, then a tangy yet sweet custard middle, and then topped with a lightly sweetened vanilla cream cheese whipped cream. I mean, how can you resist all of those things combined?! This recipe will make a lot of bars, so they are perfect for a gathering or picnic. I'm kind of into rhubarb lately, as you may have noticed from my rhubarb recipe round-up last week. I also still have a grocery bag full of it from my father-in-law's garden, so be on the look-out for even more rhubarb recipes over the next few weeks. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Beyond strawberry rhubarb pie: A rhubarb recipe round-up

Not that there's anything wrong with strawberry-rhubarb pie, of course. It's delicious and it's a classic for very good reason. But, there are so many other tasty things you can make with rhubarb. It's often an under-appreciated ingredient, but it's popping up in gardens all over our area right now, so it's the perfect time to explore other uses. Please check out all these recipes utilizing rhubarb for all meals of the day and in both sweet and savory dishes. I hope you are inspired to add more rhubarb recipes in your kitchen. Follow my Rhubarb Recipes Pinterest board for even more inspiration. I would love to hear your favorite rhubarb recipes as well!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Homemade baby food purées (advanced; part two)

Golden potato, broccoli, & cheddar mash (Boil in water - 1 peeled and chopped golden/yellow potato and 1/3 cup frozen broccoli florets until soft. Drain. Mash with 1/3 cup grated white cheddar cheese and milk to your desired consistency). I don't like to puree potatoes as they tend to become gummy.

Ours twins are starting to move on to chunkier purées and some more finger foods now. They have entered the "Stage 3" baby food time (9 months). They recently tried commercially available puffs and melts and enjoy learning to pick them up and feed themselves. They've also been trying more of our foods like chicken, roasted vegetables, turkey, and pasta. However, they still are eating smoother purées, cereal, and yogurt as well. That's what they still eat the most of right now while they are learning to grasp and feed themselves more and more each day. 

Carrot, mango, & yellow bell pepper purée (Steam one cup of chopped carrots until almost soft and then add 1 cup frozen mango chunks and 1/3 cup chopped yellow pepper. Cook until soft and purée to your desired consistency using steaming water).

Sunday, April 30, 2017

May Meal Plan {and a Father's Day giveaway!}

It's time for May's Meal Plan - May means the kick-off of picnic and grilling season. This month we also have a giveaway just in time for Father's Day! Check out all the great recipe ideas and then make sure to enter at the bottom of this post.