Recipes · Uncategorized

Snackin So Good

Snack time can be a delightful time or a vicious cycle of “what haven’t see had in a while?”. I try my best to keep from falling into a rut, but as a working mom I don’t always succeed. However, I try not to beat myself up over it because kids have had fruit snacks and crackers with peanut butter for a snack for decades and it hasn’t hurt anyone yet. I mean, at least I purchase the dye-free fruit snacks-right??

This past week I did my best to get our nutrition back on track.  By actually planning out meals and going to the grocery store(s) I was able to have a stocked kitchen, which in turn made snack time a total breeze.  It didn’t hurt that I had a bonus day off this week, so I was able to really channel into our healthy eating lifestyle.  Below are two extremely simple recipes, using items you more than likely already have just laying around OR items that are fairly inexpensive to add to your grocery list.  I hope you enjoy these snacks as much as we did.  When a 2.5 year old gives her stamp of approval, you know you did something right!

Banana Boats:

Take your favorite fruits and turn them into a dessert-esque treat!

  • banana
  • blackberries/blueberries (or strawberries)
  • peanut butter
  • granola
  • mini chocolate chips
  • caramel/honey/ or chocolate sauce (I made my chocolate sauce using Cacao Powder and coconut oil)

Directions:

Cut banana in half.  Lightly spread 1 teaspoon of peanut butter on the side of the banana that is face up.  Place berries on banana.  Sprinkle with granola and chocolate chips.  Quickly glaze in sauce of your choice.  We served ours with yogurt on the side with additional fruit. Enjoy!

I told you it was really going to be THAT easy. 🙂

Avocado Bruschetta

This dish is the perfect twist on a typical bruschetta. All of the flavors work together to create a delicious Italian snack, appetizer, or light lunch.

  • 2 pieces of bread (of your choice)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/2 cup cubed chicken (cooked)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • sprinkle of mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly toast bread in toaster to speed process up OR you can place the toast in the oven when it is preheated and toast bread in oven for 10 minutes.

Cut the tomato into 1/4″ slivers, then cut in half.  Slice avocado in half. Take avocado and spread across bread, one side only.  Place the bread avocado side up on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle mozzarella on top of avocado and place chicken as desired on bread.  Top with tomatoes and lightly drizzle olive oil on top.

Place toast in oven for 4 minutes, checking to see if the cheese has melted.  Once cheese has melted, broil for 1-2 minutes so the bread can become a little crispy.  Remove from oven and drizzle with balsamic vinegar as desired.

Hope you enjoy these quick and easy recipes that can add a little variety to your everyday snacking.  Let me know if you try it! Do you have a similar recipe or favorite snack? I would LOVE to hear them.

Recipes

Super Snack Sunday

99% of Americans refer to this day as Super Bowl Sunday. I, on the other hand, refer to it as Super Snack Sunday. To be honest, I love football but essentially tune in for the commercials and bottomless bowls of food. (This year, Mr. Timberlake will be the highlight 💙). The Super Bowl is right up there with Thanksgiving when it comes to food. Even if we don’t go to a party, which by the way we aren’t, I will make enough food for at least 10 people. Why? Because it’s fun and, why not.

Everyone knows the perfect app keeps you coming back for more and more. A favorite in our household is anything that involves dip. Healthy? No. Delicious? Always.

Dish number one for snack day: Nachos. We recently purchased an air fryer oven, you know the “as seen on tv” contraption. Well, let me tell you it is absolutely amazing. Before this, I topped nachos with queso and called it good. Now, with the air fryer, we load our chips with real shredded cheese, meat, onions, beans, etc. Using the air fryer it only takes 8 minutes to make restaurant worthy nachos.

Red Lobster Style Fried Broccoli and Peppers: Confession, this is the only reason I go to Red Lobster.  I am obsessed with the calamari and veggies appetizer.  So, to be “healthy” I plan on making this LOL.  Lightly dip the veggies in an egg wash, then top with panko seasoning.  We flavor our seasoning with garlic, black pepper, salt, and a splash of cajun seasoning.  Throw it in the air fryer for 12 minutes and serve with ranch or marinara, YUM!

Buffalo Chicken Dip: A staple in our household. 2 packages of cream cheese, 1 large can of chicken (shredded), 1/2 cheddar jack cheese, Frank’s hot sauce, and 1/4 cup ranch.  Melt cream cheese and chicken together.  Mix in 1/4 cup ranch and hot sauce to your liking. Place in oven-safe dish, topped with cheddar jack.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  YUM.

Dessert(s): Mini Fruit Pizza Cups

To make these you need a roll of sugar cookies, 1 package cream cheese, 1 container cool whip, vanilla extract, and you favorite fruit.

Break sugar cookie roll into 1 inch sections. Roll sugar cookie into a ball. Place into greased mini muffin tin. Gently press thumb into center of each cookie ball. Place in oven at 350 for 8 minutes. Check, if they look finished take them out. They may need to cook a minute or two longer. They’re ready when the cookie form a muffin shape. The center of the cookie will drop to make a bowl shape as they cool.

Allow cookies to cool. Mix together 1/2 package of cream cheese (softened) with a small container of cool whip. Add in 1 tsp vanilla and 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Spoon filling into cookies. Top with fruit as desired.

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What are you making for the food driven holiday?? Send pictures or comments. We’re totally “foodies” and would love to see.

Recipes

Baked Potato Soup

Who doesn’t love a big ol’ bowl of baked potato soup, especially during the winter months.  Baked potato soup is hands-down my favorite soup, ever.  I LOVE the soup from Panera, but they only offer it two days a week and somehow its never on the days that I am craving it.  Plus a single bowl of soup nowadays costs over $6, when in reality I can make enough for the entire family for a little more.  Today I am sharing this AH-MAY-ZING soup recipe.  We made this last weekend and I cannot wait to make it again, ASAP.

Obviously, you are going to need russet potatoes for this soup.  I stopped at Aldi and picked up an entire 5 lb bag for roughly $3. Next up on the ingredient list: chicken stock, bacon, milk, onion, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, and green onions.  Literally every single item came from Aldi and my entire investment for this recipe was right around $20.  The bacon was actually the most expensive ingredient, its crazy how expensive bacon can cost nowadays. BUT what’s baked potato without the bacon??

Since dinnertime and bedtime sneak up on us, I try to make things as easy as possible.  When it came to baking the potatoes, I chose to use the microwave.  Yes, I know to bake them in the oven simply involves piercing holes and placing them in the over for an hour or so.  However, in order to do that I would need to be more aware of what time I actually start trying to make dinner.  So, I pierced holes and wrapped them in saran wrap- then off to the microwave.  It works just as well and I was still able to scoop our the potato filling.

While the potatoes were cooking in the microwave, I had the bacon in the oven.  Have you ever tried to fry bacon with a 7 month old and 2 year old running around at your feet? HA! So, the oven is not only a safer option but I am also able to walk away from the project to tend to my littles.  Bonus- since I was putting the bacon in the soup it was able to get a little crispier since I didn’t hear the timer go off initially.

Once the potatoes and bacon were ready, it was time to get the soup going. I saved a little of the bacon grease from the oven pan and poured it into the soup pot with 1 stick of butter.  Yes, I know, one stick is quite a bit of butter but I am using quite a bit of potatoes. I melted the butter in with the bacon and added my garlic, onion, salt, and pepper giving them a chance to simmer together for a few minutes.  I slowly added in my potato filling, stirring frequently.  Once all the potatoes were mixed in I added 1 cup of flour and stirred again.  Finally, added in the broth and milk.  Brought the mixture to a boil and turned down to a simmer.  About 5 minutes before dinner, I added in the cheese and sour cream. Voila, time to eat.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.  There weren’t very many leftovers, which in my house means it was a huge hit. We did have company over, so it made about 10 big bowls of soup. My husband has already requested this tasty dish again soon, and I am more than ready to make it again as well.  Enjoy!  {{Sorry about the picture, it was so delicious that I couldn’t wait to eat it and the picture was an after thought.}}

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Ingredients:

  • 8 medium russet potatoes
  • 1 14oz can chicken broth
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 cloves garlic (I actually used 4, but we like garlic)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 package bacon
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • additional cheese and green onions for toppings

Directions:

  • Wash potatoes then bake.  Either in oven or microwave, whatever you preferred method may be.  While potatoes are baking, cook bacon as well saving some of the bacon grease.
  • Cut potato filling into little cubes, leaving the skin out.
  • Pour grease from bacon into soup pot with 1 stick of butter.  Turn stove on medium and melt the stick of butter into the grease.
  • Once the butter melts, add in the onion and garlic.  Allow the ingredients to come to simmer together for about 1-2 minutes, stirring the entire time.
  • Add potatoes to the pot, stirring.
  • Pour 1 cup of flour, salt, and pepper into the pot.  Stir and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add chicken broth. Stir.
  • Add 6 cups of milk, and stir.  Bring the soup to a boil.
  • Once soup boils, bring down to a simmer.  Cover and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add 1/2 cup cheese and sour cream to the soup.
  • Taste test, you may want to add additional cheese, salt, or pepper at this time.
  • Prepare soup bowls and enjoy!

**I actually left my soup to simmer for close to an hour. It was an accident, but life happens with two little ones.  In doing this it became a very thick and savory soup.  I added about 1/2 cup of additional milk since it was so thick.**

Recipes

Spinnin’ Chicken

Once again dinnertime rolled around and I had no idea what to make.  Despite my best efforts with meal planning, things don’t always go as planned.  So once again, I scanned my refrigerator and cabinets for anything and everything I could use to make an actual meal.  *Luckily for me, I keep a lot of random things in the house at one time.* With a little creativity, we can always make something work.

So I was able to whip up some Spinach Artichoke Chicken, which was a HUGE hit at our house.  Not only was it delicious, but it was easy to make and the leftovers were just as good (if not, better in my opinion).

Below you will find the easy recipe, enjoy!

We love eating chicken and it is one of our dinnertime staples.  So we always have chicken in the fridge.  If you live near a Fresh Thyme, you should seriously consider purchasing your chicken there.  It is a fraction of the cost, you receive a lot of meat for the price, and the meat is free of antibiotics and growth hormones.  Yes, it is an extra trip we have to make while out but it is worth it.

I started by washing the chicken in cool water.  Truthfully, I never heard of this but one day while on maternity leave Rachael Ray said she always washed her chicken prior to cooking it and from that day forward I also washed my chicken.  LOL.  Anyways, once it was rinsed I set it to the side while I prepared the spinach artichoke dip.

For the dip I modified a Kraft recipe that we have used before.  Instead of frozen spinach, I used fresh because it was what we had available.  I washed the spinach, then chopped it into very little pieces.  My mom gave me this amazing handheld food processor and I threw the spinach in there to reach the desired size. Once it was chopped up, I threw it on the skillet with some water to steam it.  This took about 3 minutes total. I set the spinach to the side and placed the cream cheese into a saucepan and turned the burner on medium.  I slowly melted the cream cheese, stirring frequently.  Once it melted, I added in the spinach, garlic, cheeses, salt and pepper.  I placed a lid on the saucepan and allowed the dip to simmer on low while I prepared the chicken.

In a large skillet I poured olive oil into the pan, enough to cover the bottom of the skillet. I turned the burner on medium and allowed the skillet to warm up.  While the skillet was reaching the desired temperature, I seasoned my chicken.  Lightly sprinkling the Lawry’s and Italian Seasoning on both sides of the chicken.  If I had to guess, I would say I used about 1-2 teaspoons on each piece of chicken.  I tend to go heavy with seasoning, making sure there is a light dusting on each side.  This is where the majority of the flavor will come in.  Once seasoned, place the chicken on the skillet.  Cook both sides evenly and as chicken is reaching desired temperature, prepare to add the spinach dip to it.

As chicken is nearing the desired temperature, I place a tablespoon of spinach artichoke dip on each piece of chicken.  After placing the dip on the chicken, return the lid back to the skillet so the dip can melt on top.  Once the chicken reaches 165 degrees, it is ready to serve.  Sometimes we top with additional cheese (provolone, provel, parmesan or mozzarella) or even add sun-dried tomatoes to the chicken. This goes well with rice or garlic and olive oil noodles. I have added a little olive oil and milk to the dip and poured it over plain noodles too, turning this dish into a pasta. Another option is to buy spinach artichoke dip from the store and simply top the chicken with it. If you live in St. Louis, Schnucks makes an amazing one and you can find it in the deli section. Another delicious pre-made one can be found at Costco. Or if you prefer a different recipe, knock yourself out.

Ingredients:

  •  6 chicken breasts
  •  Italian Seasoning
  •  Lawry’s Seasoning
  • Mozzarella/Provolone Cheese
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Olive Oil

Spinach Artichoke Dip

  • 8oz cream cheese softened (I use the 1/3 less fat)
  • 10 oz spinach (you can use frozen OR fresh, if fresh: chop and steam first)
  • 1 jar artichoke hearts
  • 2 cloves garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (we use freshly grated)
  • salt & pepper as desired
  • *optional* Sun-dried tomatoes
  1. Rinse chicken under cool water.  Set to the side.
  2. Chop spinach or defrost frozen spinach.  If using fresh spinach, chop and steam with a little water on the skillet.  For frozen, defrost in a pan on medium-low heat.
  3. Add cream cheese to spinach in a saucepan.
  4. Melt cream cheese and fold spinach and artichoke into the cream cheese.  Stir often.
  5. Once cream cheese is melted, add in garlic, cheeses, salt, and pepper. *we really love garlic so I often add an extra clove or 1/2 tsp.*
  6. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Set aside and allow dip to simmer on low while making the chicken.
  7. Cover bottom of skillet with olive oil.  Turn burner to medium.
  8. Season chicken with Lawry’s and Italian Seasoning.
  9. Place chicken in skillet, place lid on skillet to cook. Cook both sides of the chicken evenly.
  10. As chicken is reaching desired temperature, add 1 tablespoon of the spinach dip to each piece of chicken.
  11. Place lid back on skillet to allow chicken to finish cooking.
  12. When chicken reaches desired internal temperature, it is ready.  We typically allow the chicken to reach 165 degrees.
  13. Top chicken with additional cheese or sun-dried tomatoes, if desired.
  14. Serve with your favorite side dishes!
Recipes

[[Unstuffed]] Peppers

Nothing like freezing cold weather and the holiday hangover to come up with a million excuses to just order takeout.  But eating/ordering out statistically has at least 200 more calories per meal than cooking at home. Plus, when eating out there will be hidden cholesterol, sodium, and FAT.  Last night I just wanted to order Chinese food and call it good, especially since I was able to squeeze in a full-hour workout in the morning.  However, I knew in doing this all my hard work would be thrown right out the window.  Instead I wandered to our kitchen and prayed that we would have something everyone in the house would enjoy.

I absolutely LOVE stuffed peppers.  Everything from the filling to the peppers itself make me happy.  In my opinion its a great comfort meal because it is warm, filling, and a classic dish that so many of us have enjoyed over the years.  I was delighted to see we actually had almost everything needed to make it and I could substitute the missing ingredients.  As I was getting ready to get down, my husband reminded me that he isn’t the biggest fan of peppers himself.  *Insert heavy eye roll here*.

Instead of letting this discourage me I thought, well let’s have UNSTUFFED peppers.  Essentially we turned this stuffed pepper recipe into a plain casserole that was completely pepper-less.  By removing the peppers, I was able to gain another audience member because it became toddler approved.  If any of you have young children you know that anything green is definitely not happening.  So here is the recipe we used!  I personally think it would have tasted great with small peppers chopped up and mixed in or actually stuffed inside of the peppers, but what do I know lol.  This entire dinner only required my attention for about 20 minutes, then I could walk away while it cooked the remaining 20, which gives me time to feed the baby.  Although it took about 45 minutes altogether it was delicious and fairly simple.

***Since we try to watch our cheese intake, we go light with the cheese mixed in and on top of the casserole (gotta save calories somewhere, right?).  If you are a cheese lover, knock yourself out.***

Ingredients:

1lb hamburger meat, 1 cup rice, 12oz can Italian diced tomatoes, 12 oz can tomato sauce, 1 onion medium onion chopped, 3 cloves garlic, 3 Tbsp ketchup, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp pepper, 1 Tbsp oregano, 1Tbsp brown sugar, 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar jack cheese.  *peppers optional, if you plan on stuffing them I recommend using at least 5 because this made a LOT of filling*.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook rice as directed on box. Brown hamburger. Drain and set aside.  Add chopped onion and garlic to skillet where hamburger cooked and allow the onions/garlic to simmer for 2-4 minutes.  Return hamburger to skillet. Pour tomato sauce and diced tomatoes over the rice/burger and mix in.  Add in ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, brown sugar, oregano, soy sauce, and mozzarella.  Mix ingredients together and cook for about 3-5 minutes.  Spray casserole dish with oil, and poor the mixture into the casserole dish.  Place in oven for 20 minutes.  Remove and top with cheddar jack cheese, return to over until cheese is melted on top.  When cheese is melted, allow dish to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

 

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Recipes

Chicken, it’s whats for dinner.

Dinner time at our house can often be the best time of the night OR our worst nightmare when it comes to decision making.  Our nights go by so quickly and I for one do not want to spend a lot of time making dinner on weeknights.  The stove is typically the go-to cooking method because it seems to be the quickest and with two children under three, time matters.  However, we often fall into a rut like most people do when cooking at home.  One night I had chicken in the refrigerator and our typical favorites did not sound good, so I opened up the fridge and whipped up this meal with items I had available.  Now it is on our meal planning menu and we choose it often.

Ingredients:

6 chicken breasts

Olive Oil

Lawry’s Seasoning

Weber’s Kickin Chicken Spices

Harry & David Original Red Pepper Jelly

Pepper Jack or Mozzarella Cheese

Directions:

Cut and butterfly chicken breasts.

Pour olive oil in pan, enough to coat the bottom of the skillet.  Allow skillet to preheat. While it is heating up, season the chicken breasts with Lawry’s AND kickin’ chicken on both sides.  We go light with the Lawry’s as in a light dusting and a bit heavier with the kickin’ chicken.

When skillet is ready, place chicken and cover with a lid.  Cook chicken for about 5 minutes, then flip sides.  Continue to evenly cook until chicken reaches desired internal temperature (we aim for at least 165 around here).  Then, turn the skillet to low.  Place a tablespoon of Harry and David Red Pepper Jelly on each chicken breast. Sprinkle with mozzarella or pepper jack cheese.  Place lid back on the skillet and cook until cheese has melted.  Remove from skillet and enjoy!

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