Thursday, June 5, 2014

Corn and Black Bean Pico De Gallo

 Spring has come. The weather is warm and my porch is bursting color and best of all fragrance! Basil and cilantro! Inspiration with every sniff! 

5-6 fresh tomatoes
1 jalepeno
1/2 of a vidalia onion
1/2 of a green bell pepper
1/2 a can of black beans
1/3 cup of corn
1/3 cup of cilantro 
salt, pepper, garlic powder

Finely dice all of the ingredients and stir together. It's that easy!

Saute some sliced onion and bell peppers. Saute with salt, pepper, garlic and cumin. Top with some guacamole, cheese and this pico! Dinner is done...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Spinach, Tomato and Feta Pizza

I think that Pizza may be the universal symbol for happiness! Or maybe that's just in my world but in my opinion you can not go wrong with having a pizza night. It lifts mommy's moods and makes kiddos happy. It may be the ultimate cuisine. I love pizza! I recently resorted to this white pizza after running out of mozzarella but having Feta cheese on hand. It was the perfect combination, of course and it is now one my current favorite way to eat pizza. Plus it's just so pretty and colorful! 

Ingredients for the crust- prepare one hour before dinnertime
1 1/2 cups of warm water
1 TBSP yeast
1 tsp sugar or honey
3-3 1/2 cups of white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 tsp salt

With a fork, I stir together my water, yeast, sugar and 2 cups of flour. Once combined I add the other cup of flour, olive oil and salt and knead, right in the bowl, until it comes together. Once that happens, I use my mixer with the dough hook to knead the dough for about 5 minutes. You can just use your hands if you don't have a mixer. If the dough is too sticky for your mixer or your hands, add another half cup of flour. Cover and let raise for 1 hour. I have rushed this before and it doesn't seem to make much difference, if you're short on time. 

 *This dough recipe makes 2 crust recipes. I made a regular cheese pizza and this spinach pizza. If you want to make 2 spinach pizzas, simply double the spinach amount below* 
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and press out pizza dough

Ingredients for the pizza topping:
olive oil
salt, pepper,oregano and garlic powder 
2 cups of fresh spinach
feta cheese
diced red onion
diced tomatoes
Parmesan cheese- I actually grated fresh and used the "shaker cheese" both 

In a saute pan with olive oil, season the spinach with salt, pepper and garlic powder and saute until it just starts to wilt. Remove from heat and scoop onto a plate to stop it from continuing to wilt. 
Top the entire crust with olive oil. Season with salt, garlic powder and oregano. Add the rest of the toppings and bake at 425 degrees until feta is browned.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Honey and Cinnamon Sauteed Carrots


I came across a bag of local organic carrots at out health food store and along with slicing them up to go alongside my kids' lunches, I was wanting to use them in a new side dish also. When I was thinking through my evening meal of meatloaf and oven roasted potatoes, I had the inspiration of a simple and sweet carrot sauté. They turned out great and really could have been doubled as dessert!
6-8 carrots- peeled and sliced into matchstick size
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup honey
Saute the carrots in the olive oil. Season them with salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes to soften and add the honey. Saute for another 5 minutes or until carrots are soft.

With the sweetness of the honey these are sure to be loved by the whole family

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Applesauce Bread French Toast with Chopped Pecans

 This breakfast dish was made one Sunday morning on a whim and out of the desire to use up the rest of a yummy dessert bread but I quickly saw that it's potential to be a standout on a special occasion. The pecans can be even more dressed up by stirring them in a skillet with a few tablespoons of pure maple syrup until they become a delicious brittle.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Ingredients for the bread: 
2 cups of applesauce
3 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
3 cups of flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 TBSP of cinnamon
2 apples diced up very small

Mix to combing the wet ingredients and then the dry. Fold in the apples and separate into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake at 325 for 1 hour. 

Ingredients for the french toast:
 5 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1/3 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk together and make french toast as usual. Top with warm pure maple syrup and chopped pecans. A side of bacon never hurt either! 

Tex-Mex "Hamburger Helper"

Over the last couple of days I have had the opportunity to give some other mamas a bit of advice on switching out some of their current ingredients for meals and snacks for more of an all natural form. It's been very cool for since this is something that I grow more passionate about as time passes. When I needed to use up the rest of our taco meat, my mind went to these mamas who mentioned box foods in their pantry and that maybe a homemade version would be a welcomed meal on their family's table as they switch out and make changes. Pretty cool! Pretty fun! 

olive oil
1/2 onion- finely diced
1 bell pepper - diced
2 cloves of garlic- minced finely or grated on a zester
1 pound of ground beef- or ground turkey or even diced chicken breast.
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp pepper
1 TBSP cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp of red pepper flakes -  optional
1 box of whole wheat pasta of your choice
1 1/2 cup of salsa
1/2 can of roasted tomatoes with chipotle peppers- optional if you can find them
sharp cheddar cheese
chopped cilantro

Boil pasta, in salted water, for 5 minutes and turn off the heat. Saute the onion for a few minutes and add in the bell pepper and garlic. Add in the ground beef and season everything with the seasonings listed and cook thoroughly. Remove the pasta from the water with a slotted spoon, reserving the water for later use. Stir to combine the pasta and flavors. Taste for flavoring and add more of the seasonings if needed. Top with your favorite Mexican toppings and enjoy! 

Whole Wheat Pumpkin, Carrot and Cranberry Muffins

Another option for a healthy morning muffin. And this one has two vegetables hidden inside! 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2/3 of a cup of warmed coconut oil
1/3 of a cup of plain applesauce
1 cup of sugar- These aren't "dessert" muffins. Add another 1/2 cup if desired.
3 eggs
1 tsp of vanilla
1/4 cup of plain yogurt
1 cup of pumpkin
2 1/2 cups of white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup of ground flax seeds
2 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups of shredded carrots
1 cup of dried cranberries
Oat Bran

Combine the wet ingredients until smooth. Add in the dry ingredients to combine. Last, add in carrots. Once all combined, fold in the cranberries. I use a large ice cream scoop and fill my muffin papers. Sprinkle tops with oat bran and bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes or until firm to the touch. 

*There are some ingredients listed that I always have on hand. 
If you do not have them, then I have some tips for you.*

*You can use just 1 cup of light olive oil instead of the coconut and applesauce mixture
*You can add a few TBSP of milk or half and half if you don't have yogurt                         
 *You can use all whole wheat flour                                                                                                
 *The oat bran on top is mainly just for prettiness                                                                      

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Quick "Throw Together Because of a Craving" Brownies

I realized, after giving this recipe to a few friends recently, that I do not have these on my blog! Which is crazy since I have them tweaked perfectly and burned into my mind! These are the best "just get them into the oven" brownies. When we go and visit my roomie from college for a long weekend, these are what we bake after the combined 6 children are finally in bed and quiet and it's time to catch up. Love them and her!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
1/2 stick of butter
6 TBSP of cocoa
2 eggs
1 cup of sugar
2 TBSP of brewed coffee- or 1 tsp of vanilla
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup of flour
1/2  cup of chocolate chips
In a saucepan, melt the butter on a low heat. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until well combined and creamy. Whisk in the the cocoa and butter mixture and coffee. Stir in the flour, salt and chocolate chips. Transfer to a greased 8x8 pan and bake for 25-28 minutes or until brownies are just set in the center. A toothpick will not come out clean. You don't want to over bake them at all. Allow to cool a bit and finish setting up then enjoy! With ice cream. And chocolate syrup. And fresh whipped cream. And chopped pecans..... okay you get the point!

A miraculous event....  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Chocolate Chip and Quinoa Granola Bars

Grocery budgets are a funny thing. They make you think that you have all the choices you want... until you start adding on your calculator! Recently, it's been tough to fit those extras onto the conveyer belt.  We had really been enjoying "Kind"  bars but you know how that goes so I had added it to my long list of things to make myself in order to save my budget and make my family happy. It wasn't until I came across a picture of this
granola bar that I finally had the inspiration to go to the kitchen and cross "granola bars" off of my to-do list. I did not have most of the ingredients that were listed so I used that recipe as a guide and wanted to share my own version with you. Enjoy!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1/4 cup of coconut oil
1/2 cup of brown rice syrup- or honey. I was just out of honey.
1/3 cup of natural crunchy peanut butter
1 cup of rinsed quinoa
2 cups of whole oats
1/2 cup of ground flax meal
1/2 cup of finely chopped walnuts 
3/4 cup of mini chocolate chips

Heat a skillet on medium heat. Add the rinsed quinoa and stir until it dries out and becomes fragrant. This will take 2-3 minutes while stirring often. Remove from pan and into the mixing bowl. Repeat the toasting of the oats and walnuts and add to the mixing bowl. In the same skillet add the coconut oil, brown rice syrup and peanut butter. It will all melt together and become heavenly! Like pour over ice cream, heavenly! But that's another blog post.... back to this one. Pour that "syrup" over the oats mixture in the mixing bowl to combine.  Press this into a 9x13 greased baking pan. A trick to press sticky stuff into pans is to wet your hands a bit. Then the mixture won't stick to your hands. Bake for 20 minutes and allow to cool before cutting. Make one slice down the center and then smaller slices across to recreate the shape of granola bars.  

I know you will love these as much as we did
In fact, these are back on my to-do list today!  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sweet and Spicy Chicken and Kale "Egg Roll" Saute

This meal is delicious and satisfying while being easy and nutritious. The best of everything! 

coconut oil or olive oil
1 small red onion
3 chicken breasts- sauté with salt, pepper and garlic salt. Set aside to cool and dice
1 bag of broccoli slaw
4-5 pieces of kale-de-veined and chopped
salt, pepper and garlic or garlic powder
ginger to taste- I grated fresh ginger and just used a small sprinkling. Maybe 1/2 a tsp.
pinch of red pepper flakes- or more if you like it really spicy
2 TBSP rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
sweetener- I used my stevia blend. Honey or just sugar would work great too.
toasted sesame seeds or slivered almonds

Heat a sauté pan with your desired amount of oil on medium heat. Add in the onions and sauté until they are translucent and soft. Add in the diced chicken, slaw and Kale. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. If you want to use raw garlic, you could grate or finely mince it. Also add the rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and sweetener. Stir to combine. If it seems dry, you can always add a bit more oil. Continue on with the ginger, if you love ginger feel free to add even more than I did, red pepper flakes and slivered almonds, if using. Cook for one more minute. Serve with a light sprinkling of sesame seeds, if using.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter "Milkshake"

My family and I rely a lot on smoothies and "milk shakes" for snacks and meals. This is one my most favorites. It tastes nothing like health food! Please trust me on these ingredients and just give this a shot. It can be a meal or dessert...

5-6 ice cubes
1 cup of unsweetened vanilla "Silk" almond milk- this brand has great ingredients
1/2 cup of low fat cottage cheese
2 tsp of cocoa
2 tsp of a stevia blend- or any sweetener you enjoy.
heaping tsp of natural peanut butter- I use the Smucker's brand
1 scoop of Swanson's protein powder- again, great ingredients

Add all of the ingredients, except the protein powder, in a blender and blend until very, very smooth. Once it is blended, add the protein powder. This will turn it into a meal. You can enjoy this shake without it but it will not be as thick and creamy. 

Here is a link to the protein powder we use... I have several other smoothie variations here on my blog and we use this is each one. 


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chocolate or Vanilla Birthday Cupcakes

 My goal was to come up with a cupcake recipe that would make this special treat easy on you and you would never again need to turn to the grocery store bakery for sugar laden, artificial ingredients and preservative filled "treats". These cupcakes are so much more delicious and you can feel good about your little ones... and yourself eating them!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Ingredients for the chocolate cupcakes: 
1 3/4 cups of white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup of cocoa
1 1/2 tsp of baking soda
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder

2 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup of milk or almond milk
1/2 cup of light olive oil
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup of hot coffee

Sift or whisk the dry ingredients and set aside. Mix the wet ingredients until smooth. Slowly stir the dry into the wet. Once the dry is just mixed in, add the hot coffee and mix. Fill cupcake papers no more than 3/4 of the way full. They really rise up. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Until just firm. 

*For the vanilla cupcakes, I left out the cocoa, added 3 tsp of vanilla and use hot water instead of coffee. The whole wheat flour will leave them looking like yellow cupcakes* 

This is the flour and sugar that I use. I buy both of them at Walmart. They are both Non-GMO. 

This is another way to use this cake recipe. Ganache is a wonderful way to top these cupcakes. You can cool the Ganache and whip it up like chocolate whipped cream! It so, so perfect! Easy and delicious!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

"No Drive Thru Window" Shamrock Shake

Skip the drive thru and give your body a Shamrock shake that has nutritional benefits in every sip!

5 ice cubes
1 1/2 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup of low fat cottage cheese
2 tsp sweetener of your choice - we use a stevia blend
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 scoop of Swanson's protein powder
2 drops of pure peppermint extract
small handful of fresh spinach

Add all ingredients to the blender and blend until very smooth. We add a scoop of Swanson's protein powder and it becomes more of a meal! Pretty good meal if you ask me!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Weekly Menu Plan

Here's the second installment of the weekly meal plan! I hope that some of you made some new dishes last week and found some new go to favorites for your family! On the menu this week is two vegetarian meals and three meals that use chicken. I thought it would be nice to be able to buy one protein and use it in several different ways. This means you will need a large pack of chicken to feed a family of four, several times. Any of the chicken meals can be changed over to vegetarian by simply using white beans in place.
Kale and Purple Cabbage stir fry
Add chicken and broccoli to this to make it a full meal or leave as a rice or kale side dish to some oven roasted chicken breasts. More details in the recipe link.
Vegie Bagel

Spring Mix Salad with our favorite dressing!
Add some sautéed chicken, strawberries and almonds to complete as a meal

Chicken and Pasta with a Lemon and Parmesan sauce

This is our "trying together" meal. I've never made these either but I am excited to try! Greek Chicken Gyros from Annie's Eats. One of my favorite blogs! I am looking forward to it too!

Please leave comments to let me know that you have used the menu plan and found it useful! Thanks!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Weekly Menu Plan

So here we go! My first meal plan here on my blog! It's so exciting to m that I have so many lovely people who use my recipes and have made them their own "go-to" choices for their meals! Of course, I want this to be the most useful for you all so please comment suggestions or questions and we can make this weekly post the best for you all! My plan is to post 4-5 meals a week leaving the day of the week up to you. The shopping list will be a rough one, assuming that you already have the standard ingredients that most recipes use. I am going to use recipes from my site and I will also pick one from one of my many favorite food blogs, giving them the credit of course.
Thank you so much for supporting my passion!

Vegie Egg Rolls

Cheesy Gnocchi and Vegetable Chowder


Sausage and Pepper Pasta with Homemade Parmesan and Herb Bread


Chicken Fajita Salad with a Cilantro and Lime Vinaigrette

My Super Bowl food pick is this wing recipe by Daphne Oz. I don't have a picture to use because I haven't made them yet but I am sure they will be a crowd pleaser! There is one change I am going to make to them. Instead of wings, I am going to chunk up some chicken breasts and marinate them overnight. I plan to pan seer them and then bake them in this sauce. I also think that this method would be AMAZING with some broccoli added while baking and served over brown rice for dinner. That is why I am adding this to the weekly meal plan! Let's comment on what we think of this new recipe!
I also wanted to add a snack to make for your family. Maybe something you've never made before. I chose my homemade granola bars! They are really wonderful.
Consider trying a new habit of smoothie making. I have a smoothie each day. If it's not my breakfast then it is my lunch. It has brought an easy and portable way to get fruits and vegies into my day! Here's my link for my smoothie and some other healthy snack and meal ideas.
Grocery List
Vegetables and Produce Dept.
Broccoli Slaw
Egg Roll Wrappers
Bell Peppers
Ginger root
Other Products
Frozen soup vegies -carrots, peas, corn
Canned Pineapple in it's own juice
Chicken Broth
Whole Wheat Pasta (dream fields low carb is good too)
Brown Rice
Yeast packets
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Any of the meat meals could be turned into a Vegetarian Meal
Italian Sausage- I used Turkey
Chicken Breasts
*I've picked meals that use the same ingredients twice. When you're cutting peppers, just take the extra few minutes to slice up all the peppers and then for your next meal, you'll already be prepped. 
*This list didn't include the snack or the smoothie ingredients*

*Read over the recipes to make sure you have the "staples" such as olive oil, garlic powder, honey, soy sauce, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, unbleached sugar, white whole wheat flour, parmesan "shaker" cheese.

*Walmart sells both the unbleached or raw sugar and the white whole wheat flour. In my opinion, just switching those two ingredients can bring much better health to your family*

These are the two that I use. They are both GMO free! I get them at Walmart.


Purple Smoothie Popsicle

We've become a smoothie household. This is my kids favorite smoothie "flavor" They call it their purple monster smoothie. It is often the main part of their lunch meal. I happened to have some leftover last smoothie round and that's when the popsicle idea happened. What kid doesn't rejoice at the sound of the word popsicle? We mama's you'll rejoice at the sight of them slurping these wonderful blends of fruits, vegetable and other nutritional heroes down!
Popsicles you will WANT your kids to want!
1 cup of water, milk or almond milk
1/2 cup of frozen strawberries
1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
2 frozen bananas
2 big handfuls of fresh spinach
1/2 cup of plain yogurt- I make my own. I can explain in a comment if you're curios
2-3 TBSP ground flax seeds
Blend up super smooth in a blender and freeze in your favorite popsicle molds.
I used a BPA free set we got off of Amazon.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Deliciously Dense Chocolate Cake

This chocolate cake really hits that spot. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about! Raise fork, take a bite, close your eyes and smile... spot. This cake wouldn't necessarily be a go to choice  for a light and fluffy cupcake. It's more of a mix between a brownie and a flourless cake. I know, sounds like it has multiple personalities! It actually does because it is also a vegan cake!  The addition of the apple cider vinegar replaces the need for eggs and gives it it's dense and fudgy consistency. I like this recipe for those days when you need something fast and easy to get into the oven for a quick chocolate fix. Try it and let me know how you like it!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees


1 cup warm coffee or water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup light olive oil

1 cup unbleached sugar
1 1/4 cups flour-I use unbleached white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1tsp apple cider vinegar

I add the ingredients into a bowl or my mixer just as listed. I stir to combine and bake. It's that easy! I have made both cupcakes and a small 8x8 cake. Both bake very quickly. Check at 12 minutes and keep an eye on them closely after that. As soon as the top is firm, they're done.

These can be topped with a number of yummy things. Fresh whipped cream, a ganache or just a dusting of powdered sugar.
Life is good...

*Because this is a vegan cake, you could under-bake it and serve with ice cream. Sort of a one dish lava cake for the family! I haven't tried this yet but will update this blog when I do*