Category Archives: Recipes

Dairy Free Chocolate Pudding?

Pudding Two

I’ve fallen in love with homemade chocolate pudding and this recipe makes it easy to make it dairy-free (I’ll post the regular recipe here, but note the dairy-free options).  Whipped some of this up yesterday in anticipation of Ryan and I sitting down to watch the last episodes of Breaking Bad (yes, we’re just now getting into the show on Netflix, long after it aired).

I’ve been so delighted to find out that there is such thing as dairy-free chocolate! And it’s not carob, BLECH!  If I had had to give up all chocolate to maintain a dairy-free lifestyle, I doubt I would have been successful.  Enjoy Life has mini chocolate chips and bigger chocolate chunks which I bake with ALL THE TIME.

And if you want to remain true to dairy-free look up Coconut Milk Whipped Cream on Pinterest or Google…easy and delicious!

Ultimate Chocolate Pudding, serves 4 (from Real Simple)

¼ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
A pinch of kosher salt
2 cups of milk (or almond milk)
4 lg. egg yolks
2 Tbsp. butter (or dairy-free butter)
3 oz. chocolate chips, chopped (or dairy-free chocolate chips)
1 tsp. vanilla
Whipped cream (Cool Whip has some milk/soy)

1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir in milk and egg yolks.
2. Cook on medium heat 7-8 minutes whisking constantly until it’s the consistency of mayo. Whisk for one more minute. Remove from heat. Add butter and chocolate chips, stirring until they have completely melted. Mix in vanilla. (At this point the recipe told you to run it through a strainer, I never have…mine has had minimal to no chunks but straining it would guarantee it’s smooth)
3. Put in bowl and press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, but up to two days.
4. Stir before serving to loosen up. Serve with whipped cream.Pudding one

Wet Paint: Giada’s Apricot & Cranberry Chewy Granola Bars

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love granola bars.  Well, I stumbled upon another AWESOME version that may even replace my regular ones (see this link for my old favorite homemade granola bar recipe: Homemade Chocolate Oatmeal Granola Bars).

104_4063

So this new granola bar recipe comes out of Giada De Laurentiis’s “Giada’s Feel Good Food” cookbook.  Giada is a regular on the Food Network but not someone I’ve watched regularly.  I was drawn to her cookbook because her focus seemed to be yummy but healthy food.  The recipes also haven’t required a lot of ingredients I had never heard of before.  So far, I’ve made 3 or 4 of her recipes, all of them have been hits which was surprising as I have some opinionated eaters!  Ryan liked these along with both kids.  After their first bite, the kids kept clamoring for more of the bars.  It actually cracked me up!

Back to these granola bars, I know I’ll be making them often as I can’t get enough of them and they’re a great snack or breakfast option.  I LOVE, love, LoVe that there is no sugar in this recipe (she utilizes honey) and that flaxseed meal is included (extra Omegas anyone?).  This recipe also made me realize how amazing walnuts are!  And the granola bar recipe requires parchment paper, which I’ve had in my kitchen FOREVER, and rarely use.  I love that I can use it up making something YUMMY!  Ah, it’s the little joys in life…

104_4079

 

 

 

 

 

Giada’s Apricot & Cranberry Chewy Granola Bar Recipe

Ingredients:

¾ cup of honey

1 tsp. salt

½ cup of grapeseed oil *

½ cup chopped almonds

½ cup walnuts

3 lg. egg whites at room temperature

½ tsp. vanilla

2 cups rolled oats

½ cups flaxseed meal

2 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

1/3 cup raisins

½ cup unsweetened dried cranberries

6 dried apricots—cut into ½ inch pieces (I used dried mangos I had on hand)

*Ever since I started cooking with Wildtree products, I’ve become a fan of grapeseed oil. The first time I made these bars, I only had Wildtree’s Lemon Zesty Grapeseed Oil in my pantry so I used it.  It was absolutely DELICIOUS.  The second time I made these bars, I did half lemon grapeseed oil and half coconut oil and the bars stayed together better.

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 and ensure oven rack is in the middle of oven. Spray baking dish.  Line the bottom and sides of the baking dish with parchment paper.  Spray the paper with cooking spray too.  104_4080

In a large bowl, whisk together honey, oil, egg whites, and vanilla until smooth.

In a medium bowl, combine oats, flaxseed, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Pour oat mixture into the honey mixture and stir until coated. 

 

Stir in the nuts and fruit. 104_4066

 

 

 

 

Transfer mixture to the baking dish.  Press the bars down.  Bake until light golden, about 35 minutes.  Put baking dish on wire rack to cool for about a half hour.  Cut into one inch square bars.

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WET Paint–Michael Buble, Gwenyth Paltrow, Basil, and Me…

Sorry that it’s been so long!  A lot to juggle with school starting, working some again, and MOPs starting.  Here’s a WET Paint post (i.e. things I’m trying or applying to my life).  Since it’s been so long, I’ll have three things to apply on this post….

A friend sent me an e-card that introduced me to Michael Buble.  I know, I know, he’s big right now but I’ve never really listened to him and now I’m wondering why….

So, liking the song in the e-card, I got one of his CDs from the library and liked several songs but fell in love with his song “Everything” (I’ve included the link for the music video below–check it out).   I listened to it over and over in the car today as we ran errands and some of the words made me think of Ryan…

You’re a falling star, You’re the getaway car. You’re the line in the sand when I go too far.
You’re the swimming pool, on an August day.
And you’re the perfect thing to say.

And you play it coy, But it’s kinda cute.
Ah, When you smile at me you know exactly what you do.
Baby don’t pretend, that you don’t know it’s true.
Cause you can see it when I look at you.

And in this crazy life, and through these crazy times
It’s you, it’s you, You make me sing.
You’re every line, you’re every word, you’re everything.

You’re a carousel, you’re a wishing well,
And you light me up, when you ring my bell.
You’re a mystery, you’re from outer space,
You’re every minute of my everyday.

And I can’t believe, uh that I’m your man,!
And I get to kiss you baby just because I can.
Whatever comes our way, ah we’ll see it through,
And you know that’s what our love can do.

And in this crazy life, and through these crazy times
It’s you, it’s you, You make me sing
You’re every line, you’re every word, you’re everything.

The more I listened to this song (I can listen to songs I like over and over and over–it drives Ryan CRAZY), it made me think about not just Ryan, but also Evan and Makenna.  Because this is a crazy life and crazy times but they are my everything…and it made me smile!

So I decided to listen to this song while I wrote this blog entry and there was Evan looking all cute so we started to dance together.   He had so much fun dancing with his mom, he asked to do it again two more times!  And in the midst of the giggles and spins and smiles, he told me he was going to marry me because he loves me!  Now that was a first…he’s wanted to marry Makenna before but never me…precious!

So that’s my first WET PAINT item in here: listen to more Michael Buble and dance with my kids.  I need to get my husband to dance with me too.  As he’s not one for dancing, I may need to get him a little liquored up!

Number #2….Mango & Avocado Salad with Balsamic-Lime Vinaigrette (thanks GP!)

IMAG0034So I heard about Gwenyth Paltrow’s cookbook, It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great and was intrigued so I got it from the library.  The whole preface to the book explains what’s special about her recipes…after she went one a hard core elimination diet to address some health issues and felt way better.  Then she took her family members to a special doctor and found that they ALL needed to eliminate all these things from their diet too so Gwenyth became on a mission to cook more healthy but also wanted the dishes to be delicious.  I was skeptical…both that her whole family was allergic to all the main food allergens and that her recipes would be delicious.  On the first point I’ll say “to each their own” and on the second point, I decided to make some of her food and see.  All the recipes I’ve made have been DELICIOUS.  Some have been a little time intensive and I’ve done things I’ve never done before, like steam chicken in aromatic steam, but I’m open to experimenting….

Here’s one of my favorites and it’s simple.  Once you have made it once, you’ll have everything you need to make it again besides the mango and avocado.  Since I buy avocadoes religiously, I only needed to grab mango this time….I pair it with a simple salmon filet with minimal spicing.  I was unsure whether Ryan would like this because it is pretty light and seems a bit odd, but both times he’s RAVED over it…

Mango & Avocado Salad with Balsamic-Lime Vinaigrette
Serves 4 (courtesy of Gwenyth Paltrow)

2 ripe mango, peeled, pitted & thinly sliced (I confess, I went on my own blog for the link on how to peel mangoes, AGAIN)
2 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted & thinly sliced
Coarse Sea Salt
Small handful of fresh basil leaves (this is my #3 WET Paint—I’ve been keeping a live basil plant around–IMAG0035it smells AMAZING, provides the basil I need, and I haven’t killed it yet!)
 
Balsamic-lime vinaigrette:
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp Brown Rice Syrup (I just used maple)
1 Tbsp lime juice
¼ c. plus 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Coarse Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper

To make the dressing: Whisk the vinegar, syrup, and lime juice together in a mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Buble + Paltrow = One Amazing Friday Night!

Life is crazy but good!

Wet Paint–Peanut Butter and Oatmeal, Gooey Goodness!

I have always loved peanut butter and adored oatmeal.  Put them together in something and I’m in heaven!  So today I’m sharing two of my favorite recipes that combine them.  Bonus: both recipes can easily be made dairy-free.
When I came across this first recipe for Peanut Butter Breakfast Pudding by Chocolate Covered Katie on Pinterest (Link to Original Recipe), I couldn’t wait to try it.  And it lived up to and exceeded my expectations! It is delicious, warm, gooey goodness!  On top of that, it is healthy and easy to make.

Ryan’s assessment of it?  “Too much peanut butter” to which I said, “How can there ever be too much peanut butter?”  So while I won’t be making it for Ryan, I will continue to make it for myself and for Makenna, who finished off Ryan’s portion with delight!


Peanut Butter Breakfast Pudding

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup milk of choice (almond is the lowest calorie)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 a ripe banana
  • 1-2 tbsp peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • honey
  • optional: chocolate chips

 

1.) The original recipe says “cook the oatmeal” like normal.  I had to google how to do that as I’ve always just made instant oatmeal in those packets for myself!  So for those who don’t know: combine the oats, milk, and salt in a small pan on the stove.  Cook for approximately five minutes on medium heat (until it starts to bubble, some of the milk has evaporated, and the oats look “wet” or tender).  Or microwave same ingredients on high for 2 or 3 minutes.

2.) Using a blender or ninja chop, mix together the peanut butter, banana, honey (just drizzle a bit), and vanilla.

3.) Add half of your cooked oats to the ingredients in the ninja chop.  Puree until it is smooth.

4.) Add the unblended oats (left for texture, I love it!).  If you want more banana, cut up the remaining 1/2 banana on top.

I have made this for breakfast, lunch, and dessert (obviously not on the same day–I love peanut butter and oatmeal but not that much)!  And to save myself from cleaning an extra dish, I’ll actually eat it straight from the ninja chop container…which causes Ryan to roll his eyes at me.  : )

For those who are wondering about calories (especially because of the oats and p.b.), when made with almond milk, it comes out to about 330 – 350 calories (without chocolate chips).  I was adding extra banana and 1 1/2 Tbsp of peanut butter, but when I want to watch my calories, I lower the amount of both.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
My other favorite recipe combining these two delicious ingredients is Homemade Chewy Granola Bars!  These granola bars are delicious, hearty, chewy goodness!  The only downside is that I can rarely stop at eating just one!

This recipe originally came from the Jezierski family about 13 years ago.  I have made it so many times, I almost know it by heart.  It is my favorite granola recipe hands down!  I’ve changed a few ingredients to work for our family so I’m writing the recipe how I usually make it while noting the original ingredients in parenthesis.

Homemade Chewy Granola Bars

1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey (or corn syrup)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil (or butter)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup wheat germ (or flaxseed meal)
3 cups of oats
3/4 – 1 cup chocolate chips or M&Ms (depends on how much chocolate you want in the bars)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
optional ingredients: 2T sesame seeds, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 c. coconut, 1/2 c. raisins

 

1.) Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, mix brown sugar, peanut butter, honey, melted coconut oil, and vanilla. Blend well.

If you’ve never used coconut oil before, it usually comes in a glass jar and is solid.  To melt the coconut oil, set the glass container in a bowl or pan full of hot water for a few minutes.

Melting coconut oil in pan in sink

2.) Add remaining ingredients.

I usually “sample” the granola bars at this point
to make sure they taste right! : )

3.) Press into pan.

4.) Bake 15-20 minutes (until the edges are starting to turn a light brown).

Like I said, DELICIOUS, Portable, Chewy Goodness!  Enjoy!

Note: Honey doesn’t seem to hold the bars together well without the coconut oil.  So if you’re using butter, use corn syrup.

Since posting this, I’ve continued to experiment and have found that you can replace the brown sugar with Truvia Baking Blend.  According to Truvia’s instructions, use half the amount of sugar called for (so in this recipe it’d be 1/2 cup of Truvia Baking Blend).

What are your favorite peanut butter and oatmeal recipes?

The Most Expensive Brownies, EVER (Wet Paint)

My sister, Shannon, told me about a Paleo candy bar her friend made the other day that was DELICIOUS and shared that they seemed much healthier for you than other bars or sweets.  I’ve seen the word “Paleo” all over, especially on Pinterest, but had no clue what it was.  Shannon told me that it was low-to-no-carb, no-gluten, and non-dairy which interested me because I avoid dairy and as I’m trying to lose weight, the low-carb thing might be a good thing.  That was the extent of my Paleo research!  Well, a bit more, the other night I was at Natural Grocers and overheard a woman tell another woman that the Paleo lifestyle is “eating how cavemen ate”.  Huh? 

Anyway, I was intrigued by Shannon’s experience so I looked into Paleo candy bar recipes on Pinterest.  Then I remembered that I had also seen Paleo Brownies so I checked out those recipes too.  Interesting that cavemen ate candy bars and brownies, right?

I thought I might as well pin both recipes and decide later which one to try out.  One night when I was in the mood to experiment in the kitchen (and had a hankering for dessert—let’s be honest, that hankering happens pretty often), I checked in with Ryan to see what he was in the mood for.  We both agreed that the brownie option sounded better so that’s the direction I headed.  Here’s the original posting for the recipe I used:  Easy Peas-y Paleo Brownies.

I didn’t think much of the ingredient list when I first read through it.  Then I ran to pick up the two ingredients I needed and it started to sink in.  Here’s the ingredient list, see what sticks out to you:

Ingredients:

1 cup pure maple syrup ($8.35)
¾ cup natural cocoa powder (had in our pantry)
1 cup almond butter ($8.79)
2 tsp vanilla extract (had in our pantry)
½ tsp baking powder (had in our pantry)
½ tsp salt (had in our pantry)
1 egg (in our fridge)
¼ cup dark chocolate chips (in our pantry)
So those of you who know my thrifty, couponing ways are probably thinking, “why in the heck
did you go ahead with these brownies?”  Well, two reasons, 1.) I was curious about how in the
world you’d get yummy, “healthier” brownies from these ingredients and 2.) I was now
cravingbrownies!  But look at the prices of the two of the ingredients I ran to get, they total
$17.00!  The syrup was 8 ½ ounces and you needed to use 8 ounces (one cup) in your recipe. 
The recipe called for about half of almond butter in the container I bought.  So I guess you could
say that the almond butter cost $4.40 for this recipe….but that is still $12.00 brownies!  My
thoughts…they’d better be worth it!
Directions:
I’ve included the recipe’s instructions with my own comments in italics.

 1.) Heat syrup on low heat on the stove. Stir in cocoa powder over low heat until smooth. This was weird.  At first my cocoa powder just sat on top of the syrup.  It kind of looked like an oil spill!  Even stirring it round and round, it just hung out on top.  I decided to “fold” the powder into the syrup and that seemed to help the two ingredients mix together.

2.) Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients until thoroughly mixed.  Adding the salt, vanilla, and baking powder didn’t seem like a big deal, but adding the large amount of almond butter was very interesting!  It was a big glob that required a lot of stirring to blend in, but eventually it disappeared into the dark batter.

 

3.) Pour into an 8×8 baking pan greased with olive oil or coconut oil. Or spray Pam on it quickly.  Bake at 325F for 40-50 minutes.  Why is the temperature underlined?  Well because I added 100 degrees to it…yep, I cooked our EXPENSIVE brownies at 425.  And even when it smelled like something was BURNING in the oven, I didn’t think anything of it…just thought, “huh, must be the weird ingredients cooking which makes it smell different”…it probably didn’t help that I was juggling cleaning the kitchen, putting Evan to bed, putting Evan back in bed (2x), and keeping an eye on the brownies at the same time!  I guess I’m lucky I didn’t burn down the house, right?

4.) Use a toothpick to make sure it’s cooked through. I could definitely SKIP this step, ours was not just done, but OVERDONE!  Cool before cutting/serving. For us, I needed to make sure I cut and served it BEFORE it cooled and hardened!

So how did it all end? 
Ryan was game for trying out the messed-up, expensive brownies!  And I was definitely going to
try them because I wasn’t going to make them again after realizing how much they’d cost!!!  They
were not going to go to waste. 
The square portion was an edge piece we each tried, the lumpy portion was the chewy stuff from the
middle of the pan! Ice cream brought some moisture to drier-than-normal brownies…
We were both surprised that the brownies were still good.  They were more cakey than they
should have been but the middle part of the brownie pan was moist and chewy, in my opinion,
yummy!  There was also a slightly bitter taste at times—likely from some of the edges burning. 
But maybe we’ll just call that a dark, dark, dark chocolate flavor or a hint of espresso?  Maybe
not.  In the end, Ryan concluded that the $2.00 brownie mix bought at the local grocery store
was just fine for him.   
After all of this, I went back to the original posting to see if anyone else had concerns about how
much it cost to make these brownies and I found some interesting things in the comment
section.  Some suggested using honey or agave nectar instead of syrup not just for the cost
effective element but also because either may be lower on the glycemic index.  The author also
said that instead of using almond butter, you could use any other nut butter, including peanut
butter, which sounded not only cheaper and definitely yummy to me.  So we’ll see, I might take
another shot at Paleo Brownies, using this recipe with the adaptations, or try out another recipe
found on Pinterest because just because I have to avoid dairy shouldn’t mean that I have to give
brownies up, right?
And for those of you who are wondering how many calories were in these brownies made with
so much syrup and almond butter, someone in the comments section indicated that there may
be as much as 1730 calories in the whole pan.  That seemed crazy to me, but Ryan calculated
that it’d probably be about 200 calories per serving.   
Ever had a Pinterest idea go wrong?  Would love to hear about your experience.  I’ve heard there
are actual blogs devoted to these types of adventures! : )

The Most Expensive Brownies, EVER (Wet Paint)

My sister, Shannon, told me about a Paleo candy bar her friend made the other day that was DELICIOUS and shared that they seemed much healthier for you than other bars or sweets.  I’ve seen the word “Paleo” all over, especially on Pinterest, but had no clue what it was.  Shannon told me that it was low-to-no-carb, no-gluten, and non-dairy which interested me because I avoid dairy and as I’m trying to lose weight, the low-carb thing might be a good thing.  That was the extent of my Paleo research!  Well, a bit more, the other night I was at Natural Grocers and overheard a woman tell another woman that the Paleo lifestyle is “eating how cavemen ate”.  Huh? 

Anyway, I was intrigued by Shannon’s experience so I looked into Paleo candy bar recipes on Pinterest.  Then I remembered that I had also seen Paleo Brownies so I checked out those recipes too.  Interesting that cavemen ate candy bars and brownies, right?

I thought I might as well pin both recipes and decide later which one to try out.  One night when I was in the mood to experiment in the kitchen (and had a hankering for dessert—let’s be honest, that hankering happens pretty often), I checked in with Ryan to see what he was in the mood for.  We both agreed that the brownie option sounded better so that’s the direction I headed.  Here’s the original posting for the recipe I used:  Easy Peas-y Paleo Brownies.

I didn’t think much of the ingredient list when I first read through it.  Then I ran to pick up the two ingredients I needed and it started to sink in.  Here’s the ingredient list, see what sticks out to you:

Ingredients:

1 cup pure maple syrup ($8.35)
¾ cup natural cocoa powder (had in our pantry)
1 cup almond butter ($8.79)
2 tsp vanilla extract (had in our pantry)
½ tsp baking powder (had in our pantry)
½ tsp salt (had in our pantry)
1 egg (in our fridge)
¼ cup dark chocolate chips (in our pantry)
So those of you who know my thrifty, couponing ways are probably thinking, “why in the heck
did you go ahead with these brownies?”  Well, two reasons, 1.) I was curious about how in the
world you’d get yummy, “healthier” brownies from these ingredients and 2.) I was now
cravingbrownies!  But look at the prices of the two of the ingredients I ran to get, they total
$17.00!  The syrup was 8 ½ ounces and you needed to use 8 ounces (one cup) in your recipe. 
The recipe called for about half of almond butter in the container I bought.  So I guess you could
say that the almond butter cost $4.40 for this recipe….but that is still $12.00 brownies!  My
thoughts…they’d better be worth it!
Directions:
I’ve included the recipe’s instructions with my own comments in italics.

 1.) Heat syrup on low heat on the stove. Stir in cocoa powder over low heat until smooth. This was weird.  At first my cocoa powder just sat on top of the syrup.  It kind of looked like an oil spill!  Even stirring it round and round, it just hung out on top.  I decided to “fold” the powder into the syrup and that seemed to help the two ingredients mix together.

2.) Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients until thoroughly mixed.  Adding the salt, vanilla, and baking powder didn’t seem like a big deal, but adding the large amount of almond butter was very interesting!  It was a big glob that required a lot of stirring to blend in, but eventually it disappeared into the dark batter.

 

3.) Pour into an 8×8 baking pan greased with olive oil or coconut oil. Or spray Pam on it quickly.  Bake at 325F for 40-50 minutes.  Why is the temperature underlined?  Well because I added 100 degrees to it…yep, I cooked our EXPENSIVE brownies at 425.  And even when it smelled like something was BURNING in the oven, I didn’t think anything of it…just thought, “huh, must be the weird ingredients cooking which makes it smell different”…it probably didn’t help that I was juggling cleaning the kitchen, putting Evan to bed, putting Evan back in bed (2x), and keeping an eye on the brownies at the same time!  I guess I’m lucky I didn’t burn down the house, right?

4.) Use a toothpick to make sure it’s cooked through. I could definitely SKIP this step, ours was not just done, but OVERDONE!  Cool before cutting/serving. For us, I needed to make sure I cut and served it BEFORE it cooled and hardened!

So how did it all end? 
Ryan was game for trying out the messed-up, expensive brownies!  And I was definitely going to
try them because I wasn’t going to make them again after realizing how much they’d cost!!!  They
were not going to go to waste. 
The square portion was an edge piece we each tried, the lumpy portion was the chewy stuff from the
middle of the pan! Ice cream brought some moisture to drier-than-normal brownies…
We were both surprised that the brownies were still good.  They were more cakey than they
should have been but the middle part of the brownie pan was moist and chewy, in my opinion,
yummy!  There was also a slightly bitter taste at times—likely from some of the edges burning. 
But maybe we’ll just call that a dark, dark, dark chocolate flavor or a hint of espresso?  Maybe
not.  In the end, Ryan concluded that the $2.00 brownie mix bought at the local grocery store
was just fine for him.   
After all of this, I went back to the original posting to see if anyone else had concerns about how
much it cost to make these brownies and I found some interesting things in the comment
section.  Some suggested using honey or agave nectar instead of syrup not just for the cost
effective element but also because either may be lower on the glycemic index.  The author also
said that instead of using almond butter, you could use any other nut butter, including peanut
butter, which sounded not only cheaper and definitely yummy to me.  So we’ll see, I might take
another shot at Paleo Brownies, using this recipe with the adaptations, or try out another recipe
found on Pinterest because just because I have to avoid dairy shouldn’t mean that I have to give
brownies up, right?
And for those of you who are wondering how many calories were in these brownies made with
so much syrup and almond butter, someone in the comments section indicated that there may
be as much as 1730 calories in the whole pan.  That seemed crazy to me, but Ryan calculated
that it’d probably be about 200 calories per serving.   
Ever had a Pinterest idea go wrong?  Would love to hear about your experience.  I’ve heard there
are actual blogs devoted to these types of adventures! : )


One thing I love about fall and winter is all the yummy, comfort foods.  What’s more comfort-foody than chicken, sweet potatoes, and white wine?

I know some people aren’t much for casseroles, but growing up in a family of seven in the Midwest, casseroles were a staple.  And now as a busy mom with two little ones, I love casseroles that I can make ahead and just pop in the oven right before dinner time.  This Sweet Potato and Chicken Casserole is one of my favorites.  My stomach literally growls when it’s cooking in the oven because it smells so good and I know how great it’s gonna taste!

I got this recipe from Once a Month Mom Website last year.  This website is a great resource for creating a variety of freezer meals to make one’s life a lot easier by prepping meals in bulk and then freezing them for future meals.  Brilliant.  This recipe was listed under the gluten-free/dairy-free section so for those of you with food allergies, no problem here!

I prep this casserole and put it into medium-sized freezer bags and pull them out for lunch or dinner on cold days.  I can usually get two servings from each freezer bag.  A yummy comfort meal without any of the day-of work.  Priceless!

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil (or any other oil you regularly cook with)

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp cornstarch

1 medium onion, chopped

1 1/2 lbs. of cut up chicken breast (I’ve been using chicken thigh—its cheaper than chicken breast and hearty tasting)

3 cups of sweet potatoes (peeled and diced)

1 ½ c. of carrot (diced)
1 c. of white wine
1. c. of chicken stock

1/4 c. of coconut milk (canned)



*money-saving tip: you can freeze the rest of the coconut milk until its needed (say for another batch of this yummy casserole), just pour the remaining milk into an ice cube tray–measurement-wise, each cube is approximately one ounce

Instructions:

1.) If making this casserole for dinner right away, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.) Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic until golden.
3.) While the onions and garlic are cooking, cut up sweet potatoes and carrots.  When the onion
and garlic are golden, add sweet potatoes and carrots to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally,
until lightly browned.

4.) If you have a large enough skillet, move vegetables to the edge of the skillet and add chicken. (If you have a smaller skillet, like mine, temporarily move the vegetables into a large bowl to ensure the chicken is cooked well enough).  Cook chicken until seared on all sides. Sprinkle chicken with cornstarch, then stir.

5.) Gradually add chicken stock, wine, and coconut milk. Mix well.

6.) To freeze: allow to cool. Place in freezer bag.  Label freezer bag with casserole name, oven temperature, and length of cook time.

7.) When ready to cook casserole, thaw bag in refrigerator, then place in casserole dish.  Bake at 400 degrees for an hour or until bubbly.

Tin Foil Pork Chops–Super Simple but Yummy!

Thought I’d share another recipe.   This one is for those of you out there who don’t like cooking or like to cook but keep it simple.  This was very simple and due to how it’s made, there really isn’t a lot of clean up either!

When I first read through this recipe, I thought it sounded perfect for our family.  Why?  Because Ryan LOVES pork chops and I struggle to make them well, but this recipe sounded simple yet great.  I truly didn’t know if I could mess up this recipe, so why not give it a try.  I found the recipe on a friend’s Facebook page.  One of her friend’s had posted it during a discussion about favorite recipes.  Let’s give credit where credit is due, thanks Tiffany and Tiffany friend: Darcy Davis Ayen!!!!

I know I should take a photo of the foods I put on the blog, but I just don’t think about it, until after we’ve eaten it all up.  An empty, messed up plate doesn’t have the desired effect.

Added a photo on 9/5/12, we liked it so much we made it another time. Added zucchini and it was YUMMY!

Tin Foil Pork Chops

What’s Needed:

1 to 1 1/2 porkchops per person you’re feeding
1/2 a potato to 1 potato per person you’re feeding–peeled and sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 pepper, sliced (we used a red pepper, but you could use green or yellow/orange too)
*or other veggies if you’re feeling creative

A cookie sheet
Tin Foil
Seasonings–whatever you usually use with porkchops or try something new (I used Wildtree’s Chipotle Lime Rub, Salt, & Pepper)

Instructions:

1.) Preheat your oven at 375 or 400.  Put a large piece of tin foil on the cookie sheet.  You’ll either need to have enough tin foil attached to the foil on the cookie sheet to enclose the above mentioned food or rip off another portion that you can cover over the food.

2.) Place some of your seasoning (I put my salt and pepper) on the tin foil.  Then place the uncooked pork chops on the foil, season them to your tastes (this is where I used the Chipotle Lime Rub), then place your sliced potatoes on top of the chops, add some more seasoning (I overlooked this step and ours still were fine), then add the sliced onions and peppers on top of the potatoes.

3.) Seal the tin foil around all the ingredients, so there are no holes or cracks.  Cook in the oven for about an hour (depending on the size of the chops).  Then dish each person up a porkchop, some potatoes, and some veggies!  I guarantee they’ll come back for more!

Our house smelled so great while this was cooking and afterward all I had to do was walk the cookie sheet over to the trash and slide the foil (and drippings) into the trash.

Yummy Mexican (Beef & Bean) Casserole

Here’s another Pinterest find…a great casserole recipe that doesn’t take much time to make.  I loved it, Ryan loved it, and it’s something that will still taste great as leftovers, so it will definitely be something I’ll be making again.  And this time I happened to already have all the ingredients in our fridge and pantry.  Nice!

Tangentially, lately I’ve been implementing a concept I saw on other blogs…making an intentional push towards eating up a lot of what in our pantry for a few weeks…There’s some stuff that’s stayed there for awhile (like some rice, quinoa, and some canned goods).  It’s helping us save money and encouraging me to get creative with what’s already in our kitchen.   I’ve done this before with our freezer because you forget what’s in there (I’m not organized enough to keep an inventory like some people are) but the pantry was a new twist.   And Ryan has loved this because he can’t eat enough rice!

And it cracks me up because Ryan has strong opinions about food, but the meals he’s enjoyed the most lately have been the ones that were super simple and easy to make.  Why slave away in the kitchen for hours when I can cook something brief and easy and he’s satisfied?

Beef & Bean Taco Casserole
From Recipe.com (via Pinterest)

1 lb. lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 can (16 oz.) refried beans
1 jar (16oz.) Salsa
1 pkg (1 or 1.25oz) taco seasoning mix (preferably a 40% less sodium one)
2 ½ cups of coarsely broken tortilla chips
½ medium green pepper, chopped (approx. ¾ cup)
4 medium green onions, sliced (approx. 1/4 cup)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped (approx. 1 ½ cups)
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack)
¼ cup sliced black olives
1 cup of shredded lettuce

Directions:
1.) Heat oven to 350. In a skillet, cook beef over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked, drain.
2.) Stir in refried beans, salsa, and taco seasoning mix. Reduce heat to medium. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.
3.) In an ungreased 2 quart casserole dish, place 2 cups of broken tortilla chips. Top evenly with beef mixture. Sprinkle with peppers, onions, 1 cup of tomato, the cheese, and olives.
4.) Bake uncovered 25-30 minutes or until hot, bubbly, and the cheese in melted. Top baked casserole with lettuce, remaining tomatoes, and remaining tortilla chips.

*I added extra lettuce to my dish and Ryan used tortillas with the casserole (like a burrito) when he had seconds.  I also put the cheese on just one half of the casserole so some of it was dairy-free.  So its something that can be easily made into a dairy-free dish if necessary.  There are tons of variations you could do with this!