Thursday, November 29, 2012

{Fairly} Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies With Reeses Pieces

Healthier Cookies with Reeses Pieces

Is anybody still out there? It appeared as if I had forgotten about my blog huh? Making you stare at the same post for almost a month straight, how rude of me ; )  For those of you still checking in; you’ve got to try these cookies! In spite of the holiday’s, I am trying pretty hard to resist making goodies. Honestly, my family was in a bad rut for a while there, justifying having goodies on a daily basis practically! My scale to me loud and clear that it’s time to have some self control and motivation! Since I’ve gone 5 days without a goodie, I figured I have earned a healthy treat. These cookies suited just what I was looking for: use up some Reeses Pieces from Halloween, be healthy, and actually taste good. Now, the problem is portion control with these!!

{Fairly} Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies With Reeses Pieces                makes about 1 1/2 dozen cookies
Recipe from Eating Well Magazine, originally titled Bev's Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 C. old-fashioned oats
1 C. whole wheat flour (I used soft white wheat)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 C. unsalted butter, softened
1/4 C. canola oil
1/3 C. white sugar (I took out 1 Tbsp. and added 3/4 tsp. stevia) *
1/3 C. brown sugar (I took out 1 Tbsp. and added 1 Tbsp. date sugar) *
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C. chocolate chips (I used 1/2 C. Reeses Pieces and 1/2 C. sugar free chocolate chips)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray
2. Grind oats in a blender or food processor until fine. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter in a large bowl with electric mixer until fluffy. Add oil, sugars, egg and vanilla; beat until smooth and creamy. With the mixer running, add the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. 
3.  Roll the dough into small balls and place 1-2" apart on baking sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes util firm around the edges and golden on top. Cool for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

* After tasting the dough, I opted to roll the cookie balls in sugar before baking because they seemed to be not quite sweet enough with my sugar alteration in the recipe. Once baked they were perfectly sweet!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


It's really been over a year and a half since I last posted about things I'm loving? Well, I've grown to love these things over the past while and I hope you'll give them a try if you haven't already. This is all just my true opinion. No paid advertisement here : )


This has become my "go-to" juice box for the kids. A little spendy? Yes, but luckily my Sam's Club stocks them so it doesn't hurt the wallet quite as much as buying in smaller packs. Well worth it if you ask me with with only 6-7grams of all natural sugar per box and 1 full fruit/veggie serving. I love that there's veggie juice in these, but you'd never know it from the taste.


Here's a stand-by cereal in our house. We don't eat a lot of cereal cause my kids really prefer pancakes or oatmeal for breakfast, but in a pinch, I pull out the convenience foods! Puffins comes in a variety of flavors, but peanut butter and honey rice are the top choices in our household. I love that they are not overly sweet; my  kids don't confuse breakfast for dessert when they are eating this, but there are no complaints either! 


I've fallen in love with using soft white wheat flour in my baked goods! It bakes up so soft and smooth, you'd hardly know it was wheat. It's kind of hard to find in my area other than at a specialty kitchen store and more expensive than hard white wheat, but if you reserve it for strictly muffins, pancakes and cookies, etc. it will last a while. I ended up finding it online in bulk and that saved me quite a bit. I grind it fresh and store it in a gallon storage bag in the fridge because it doesn't have as long of a shelf life as hard wheat. 


Date sugar, along with the soft white wheat makes for a pretty tasty muffin! I have been using date sugar for a few years now and absolutely love it! Again, it's expensive, but when used in moderation it will last a while. I usually combine it with other sugar or sweetener called for in a recipe to a. save $ and b. reduce the processed sugar content in the recipe. It gives a flavor similar to brown sugar in my opinion. I love that it's nothing but ground up dried dates, so sugar yes, but it's all natural! And, like a lot of other things, it's hard to find in my area so I have my mom always grab me some when she heads south to her second home in Southern Utah!


And, my VERY favorite at the moment; coconut butter. Who knew you could turn coconut into "butter"? It's a mild coconut flavor, but with a dry-ish buttery texture. Hard to just HAVE to try it! I love eating it smeared on a banana, then dip the banana into granola and take a bite. YUM YUM! This is another product I have my mom pick up for me when she's down south. Even if you're not a huge coconut lover I think you'll like this for a change!

I'd love to know what you think of these items and the different ways that you use them!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Cookie Dough Filled Cinnamon Rolls

I’ve been craving a good cinnamon roll for weeks!  Even after visiting Great Harvest and Kneaders, who both make wonderful cinnamon rolls, I held strong and resisted the temptation. (Don’t interpret that as meaning I didn’t replace the craving with another yummy treat).  But today I had an excuse to finally give in to the cinnamon rolls.  Our family had to “ghost” 2 homes in our neighborhood. Do you know what that is or is it just a Utah thing? Basically, you leave a treat on the doorstep, ring the bell and run for your life so you don’t get caught. There’s a poem printed on a ghost that is left with the treat telling that person it is now their turn to deliver a Halloween treat without being caught. This is one of those designated “dad jobs” to run with the kids as I drive the getaway car.  As silly as it seems, it really is pretty fun! So, I guess this post will rat us out if either of the families we delivered to happens to check my blog, but I think we are safe!
I was really torn as to whether or not I should risk putting this twist on the cinnamon rolls I’ve craved for so long, but I just couldn’t NOT try it.  I was afraid they would turn out way too sweet or just not seem right. It was not a mistake! Even with the glaze, I found them to be perfectly sweet and not “gaggy-sweet” at all. In fact, next time I make them I’m going to use even MORE cookie dough inside, but of course you can always take these the traditional route and leave it out.

Cookie Dough Filled Cinnamon Rolls              makes about 21

2 cups whole milk (I used 1 C. half and half, 1 C. 1% milk)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 package dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
melted butter
Mix the milk, sugar and oil in a large pot. Scald (scalding tutorial here) the mixture, then let cool for one hour. When it has cooled (but is still slightly warm), sprinkle the yeast into the milk mixture and let it sit for a minute. Add four cups (additional 1/2 C. to be used later) of flour and mix until a dough forms, then cover and let rise for at least one hour.
After an hour, add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour, baking soda and powder and mix. Making sure the dough completely comes together. Flour your work space and roll the dough with a rolling pin until it’s thin and somewhat rectangular, then brush with melted butter (as much as you want - I used about 1/4 C. ) and generously cover with cinnamon and sugar. Drops balls of your favorite chocolate chip cookie dough (here's the recipe I used) all over the cinnamon roll dough, then starting with the long end away from you, roll the dough into a line towards you. Slice the rolls about 1 inch thick and lay in pans (I used aluminum 9 inch cake pans) that have been brushed with melted butter. Let the rolls rise for about 30 minutes.
Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Let cool slightly and drizzle with the following glaze.
Glaze Recipe:
1 heaping cup of powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream (I used all half and half without adding milk)
2 1/2 tablespoons milk
Add sugar to bowl and stir in heavy cream and vanilla until mixture resembles a thick batter. Add milk one tablespoon at a time, stirring until smooth – about 3-5 full minutes. Mixture may look lumpy at first but just continue to stir and it will come together.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Roasted Eggplant Dip/Spread

Roasted Eggplant Dip

As I’ve mentioned a few times in past posts, my family loves dips, so I’m always on the look-out for a new recipe to try. I’ve had this one in my “to try” file for probably a few years and finally decided to give it a whirl. Although I loved how healthy the recipe sounded, I was a little skeptical as to how tasty it would actually be without cream cheese or mayo that’s typically found in dips. Roasting the veggies gives them a great creaminess once processed so I didn’t miss the cream cheese at all! This is a truly healthy dip that you can eat a lot of before feeling any guilt : )

Roasted Eggplant Dip
Recipe from Taste of Home 2007

1 Medium Eggplant, cut into 1" pieces
2 medium Red Peppers, diced into 1" pieces
1 Small Red Onion, diced into 1" pieces
2 Cloves Garlic, minced or garlic powder to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
3 Tbsp. Water (if needed)
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Pepper
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese, optional

Place cut up veggies onto rimmed sheet pan and drizzle with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Mix around until well covered with oil. Place in preheated 400 F oven for 45-55 minutes, until browned and soft. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Place into food processor with the tomato paste. Process until fairly smooth with a few small chunks remaining. Drizzle in water if needed for consistency. Place in bowl and bring to room temperature. Top with grated Parmesan cheese if desired and serve with crackers or spread on a sandwich.

Monday, September 24, 2012

CHICKEN WITH SHRIMP SAUCE {for the Secret Recipe Club}

Chicken With Shrimp Sauce

This month for the Secret Recipe Club, I was given the blog Chocolate and Chillies by Asiya who lives in Toronto Canada, but is of Indian heritage. I was really excited to have an excuse to go outside of my dinner “box” and make one of her traditional Indian recipes like the Low-Fat Butter Chicken or the Easy Khorma. However, this month our family life has been ruled by endless soccer games and practices x 3 kids, so I found myself at home on Sunday scrambling to find one of her recipes I could make with what I had on hand. Needless to say, that pretty much eliminated all things Indian since I don’t stock (let alone ever heard of) ginger-garlic paste, tandoori masala powder or kasuri methi. But, to my surprise I did have all I needed to make this Chicken With Shrimp Sauce. Normally I would bypass anything with seafood cause I’m not a fan, but the rest of my family adores it, so I figured my hubby would happily take the shrimp from my sauce for me! Her blog boasts easy recipes and this one sure fits that claim. It was a hit with the family and I’m sure I’ll be asked to make it again in the future!

Chicken With Shrimp Sauce         Serves 4-6 people

4 - 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in half (as to butterfly) and pounded thin
3 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp chopped onion (I used more)
1 tbsp garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper 

1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I used slightly less)
1 cup milk (I used closer to 1 1/2 C. and warmed it in microwave before adding to sauce)
1 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste (I only had lime juice and used 1 1/2 Tbsp.)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups frozen raw shrimp
1 cup water (I used chicken broth)
1 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes (I omitted - family isn't a fan of heat)
salt (I felt it needed quite a bit but I didn't measure)
I also added some garlic powder and onion powder

Remove shells from shrimp and de-vein. (I also cut mine in half to be more bite size). Boil the shrimp in some water until pink and curled (only takes a few minutes once placed in boiling water).  Drain and set aside.

Wash and clean chicken breasts.  Cut in half (as if to butterfly).  Put a piece of plastic wrap on the cutting board.  Place one chicken breast in the middle.  Fold over the plastic wrap.  Pound with a mallet until thin.  Repeat with remaining chicken.

Heat oil in large skillet. Salt and pepper one side of the chicken breasts.  Add garlic and onions to the pan and saute until soft.  Add chicken seasoned side down.  Salt and pepper the unseasoned side.  Brown both sides and cook through. Reduce heat to low and keep warm until sauce is ready.

In a saucepan add butter and oil.  Over low heat melt butter.  Gradually whisk in flour and stir until smooth.  Increase heat to medium and cook briefly.  Slowly add the (warmed) milk a bit at a time and whisk.  If you add it all at once your sauce will be very lumpy.  Once you've added all the milk, add the lemon juice and tomato paste.  Cook until thickened.  If the sauce is too thick (mine resembled playdough at this point) add water (or broth) until you reach desired consistency. Add red chilli flakes and season with salt, garlic powder & onion powder if using.  Add shrimp and stir.  Pour sauce on top of chicken in skillet and stir around a bit to cover. Serve over rice if desired. 

Friday, August 31, 2012


peanut butter bars

What better way to get back into blogging after a month hiatus, than with an “oldie but goodie” recipe? This particular version is slightly different than the one I grew up eating, in that there’s a layer of peanut butter between the cookie and the chocolate frosting, which gives it even more peanut-buttery goodness! I also have never called them “Lunch Lady” Peanut Butter Bars, I’ve only ever known them as Peanut Butter Bars.  But when I read the post at Six Sister's Stuff, she mentions having these bars as part of school lunch…Oh yeah, me too, so why not give the lunch ladies credit in the name? : )
One other thing I love about this recipe is that it makes enough to feed a crowd. Tonight I was able to give some to a neighbor, my girl’s soccer team, and keep just a few for my own little family, otherwise we would be snacking on these all night! And if you were deprived as a child and have never experienced these bars, make them and see what you’ve missed out on all these years!

{Lunch Lady} Peanut Butter Bars                        Serves 24+ depending on serving size

1 C. Brown Sugar, packed
1 C. Sugar
1 C. Butter, softened
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Baking Soda
3/4 tsp. Salt
2 C. Flour
2 C. Oats (not quick cooking)
2  1/2 C. Peanut Butter, divided use (Just 1 C. if you don't want to spread a layer between cookie and frosting)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Combine first 3 ingredients in bowl and beat with hand mixer until smooth. Beat in eggs, vanilla and 1 C. of peanut butter.  Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Spread into greased jelly roll pan (18"x13"x1"). Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden and baked through.  Remove from oven and let set for just a few minutes, but while still hot, spread remaining peanut butter on top (or skip the peanut butter layer and just frost once cooled).  Cool completely until peanut butter is firm again (can refrigerate or freeze to speed up process).  Once cooled, frost with chocolate frosting (recipe follows) and cut into bars to serve. 

Chocolate Frosting 

1/2 C. Margarine or Butter, softened
1/4 C. Milk
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
3 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder
3 C. Powdered Sugar

Mix with hand mixer until smooth and spread on top of bars. 

Monday, July 30, 2012


Snickers Salad
This month’s Secret Recipe Club assigned blog was, Bru Crew Life. I must say, picking a recipe to make from Jocelyn’s blog was the toughest for me so far. How was I possibly to choose just one out of such amazing treats as White Chocolate Goo Goo Cluster Brownies, Brookie Bites, and Peanut Butter Pie Parfaits, just to name a few? Well, in the end I decided on this unique Snickers Salad because it’s SOOOO different than anything I’d typically think of making either as a dessert or a salad. (But you better believe I will be trying those other recipes real soon!)
I had to laugh when my 9 year old daughter asked what we were having for dessert and I told her Snickers salad, she gasped and said, “Eeeww, gross! Snickers in salad for dessert?” It was kind of a proud moment for me that my daughter knows salad around here to be spinach and lettuce :)  Needless to say, she was more than happy to scarf down this sweet concoction!

Snickers Salad

1 (3.5 oz.) box Vanilla Instant Pudding
1 C. Milk
1 container Cool Whip
8 Apples, diced (I used 2 very large apples and that was PLENTY)
6 Snickers Candy Bars (I used about 10 fun size), cut into chunks
Mix the pudding with the milk. Stir. Fold in Cool Whip. Let set up in refrigerator for at least one hour. Add the apples and Snickers and enjoy!

Thursday, July 12, 2012


wild rice salad
Does it seriously take 2 weeks to post something in the summer?  I've made so many things I've wanted to post, but the problem with doing a post is getting a picture of the food before it’s gone! I saw this recipe on The Barefoot Contessa this morning as I was exercising and thought it was a perfect answer to my chicken dinner side dish dilemma. I’ve had a bag of wild rice hanging out in my pantry for several months…yay! She said this is a recipe she'd make for buffets and it was a hit. I agree! I made this salad in advance, stuck it in the fridge and it was ready to go when we were. I used what I had on hand, so my mix ins are slightly different than what the recipe calls for, but that’s the beauty of it; it’s totally customizable! I’m looking forward to leftovers for lunch!

Ina Garten's Wild Rice Salad          serves 4-6

  • 1 cup long-grain wild rice (6 ounces)
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt, divided use
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup seedless green grapes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted (I used walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (I used dried cherries)
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place the wild rice in a medium pot with 4 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes, until the rice is very tender. Drain well and place the rice back in the pot. Cover and allow to steam for 10 minutes.*
While the rice is still warm, place it in a mixing bowl. Peel the oranges with a sharp knife, removing all the white pith. Cut between the membranes and add the orange sections to the bowl with the rice. Add the olive oil, orange juice, raspberry vinegar, grapes, pecans, cranberries, scallions, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper. Allow to sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Taste for seasonings and serve at room temperature.
* I just used my electric steamer and cooked the rice for 65 minutes, then drained.

Monday, June 25, 2012

LEMON YOGURT CAKE {for the Secret Recipe Club}

Lemon Yogurt Cake

This month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment was a little trickier than usual. The More Than Occassional Baker is a blog from the UK, which means I had to do some conversions like Celsius to Fahrenheit, grams and milliliters to ounces, and I used my scale instead of measuring cups. It was kind of a fun little challenge!
I have to admit that I had to search through tons of her recipes to find one that I could make with stuff I had on hand because It’s been a crazy week and I didn’t get around to it until late last night. Lucky for me I came upon this simple cake recipe that sounded refreshing and light for a mid-morning snack.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

1 C. Self-Rising Flour (find how to make it here)
1/2 C. Honey (she uses sugar)
3/4 C. minus 2 Tbsp. Plain Nonfat Yogurt
1/2 C. Canola Oil
2 Eggs
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 F. 
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour into 9" round cake pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 30 minutes, or until toothpick test comes out clean. Cool in pan and serve as desired.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

HOMEMADE FLAVORED WATER {without the artificial stuff}

Flavored Water

My younger sister called me the other day asking about “green smoothies” and “detox drinks”.  I don’t know much about “detox drinks”, but the one she read off to me that Dr. Oz recommends sounds a little harsh for a beginner! Swiss Chard, Broccoli, Collard Greens, Fennel, etc. He has others that sound way more appealing! But, in the course of the conversation, I remembered this nice refreshing flavored water I made a few times (and apparently forgot about).  Since ginger has natural stomach soothing properties I thought she should give it a whirl. Stomach issues or not, it’s a good no-recipe drink to keep in mind during the hot summer months! You can make it just about any flavor you like or make it sparkling water. I do highly recommend using fresh mint, it gives it a more sophisticated taste. Here's a link to a bunch of other refreshing combinations!

Homemade Flavored Water

     In the bottom of a water pitcher, place slices of lime (about 1/2 a lime), a few thick-cut slices of peeled ginger, 6 or so fresh mint leaves, and a few slices of seeded cucumber. 
     Gently muddle (without pulverizing) with the handle of a wooden spoon.
     Fill the pitcher half way up with ice, then fill with purified water or tap water. If desired (and I do!), add 5-6 drops of liquid stevia to sweeten. 
     Stir together and refrigerate a few hours to let flavors meld before drinking. Pour through the strainer part of the water pitcher to avoid chunks in your glass. You can add more water and ice to the pitcher one or two more times before it loses flavor. Keeps for up to 3 days.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


The kids are obviously out of school because I haven’t had a chance to do a post for a while. I’ve made a few blog-worthy dishes, but the hard part is always being able to snap a pic before it’s all eaten or before the sun goes down! I haven’t tried my hand at artisan bread much, but the few times have left me with less than rave reviews, but I think this recipe from Tasty Kitchen is a winner! It is ridiculously easy to make and the dough can be refrigerated for up to 9 days to be used as needed for a fresh baked loaf.  It has a nice chew without being overly crusty. Save yourself $5 bucks a loaf and make this instead.
EASY ARTISAN BREAD                           enough dough for 3-4 loaves
(Printable Recipe)
6 1/2 C. All Purpose or Bread Flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. Instant Yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
3 C. Lukewarm Water (100 degrees F.)
Flour and cornmeal for dusting work surfaces

Spoon the flour into a measuring cup, level with a knife then dump into a large bowl. Repeat until you’ve added all of the flour into the bowl.
Add the yeast and salt into the flour and mix well.
Pour in the water and stir together until just moistened. Beat the mixture for 40 stokes with a wooden spoon.  Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as you go and continue until dough forms a lumpy, sticky mess. NO KNEADING!!!
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in a warm draft free area. Let the dough rise until it’s doubled and has a sponge like appearance, 1-2 hours.
Now you can use it right away or use only portions or put the whole thing in the fridge for use later. If you refrigerate it, it keeps up to 9 days.
For a baguette or round:
Place 1/4 of the dough on a floured surface and dust hands with flour. This is important—the dough is quite sticky.

Working the dough as little as possible form it into a small round or 14 inch long cylinder for a baguette. Lightly flour any sticky spots on the dough. It should feel smooth and soft all over like a baby’s skin and not at all sticky.
Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cornmeal on rimless cookie sheet and place the dough on top of the cornmeal. Cover dough with a light tea towel and let it rise for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat oven to 450 F. Put your baking stone into the preheating oven (if you have one). If you don’t have a baking stone, place a rimless cookie sheet in oven as it preheats. Place the stone (or empty rimless cookie sheet) on the top rack and put a broiler pan or saucepan on the bottom rack.
When dough has risen, slide the shaped dough off of the pan onto the hot stone (or hot rimless cookie sheet). Fill your bottom pan with 2 cups of really hot water. Close the oven quickly so that the steam stays in the oven. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until medium golden brown. When done, the bread sounds hollow when tapped.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Superfood Salad
With the end of school comes the annual neighborhood water ambush! The parents congregate at the bus stop and hide with water guns and water balloons ready to fly at the kids as soon as they step off the bus. It turns into a huge water fight and is followed by a pizza/potluck party. Usually there’s way more junk food than real food, so I took this super healthy salad. I knew better than to think the kids would dig into this vs. the potato chips and cookies, but thought the adults would appreciate the option. The best part is that I was able to use up a bunch of spinach and kale from my garden that was getting out of hand!
(click here to find out more about “Superfoods”)

Superfood Salad”                                    Serves 6
(Printable Recipe)
Recipe adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

1 bunch kale
3 C. spinach
1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
1/4 C. finely diced red onion
1/2 C. fresh blueberries (or dried cranberries)
3/4 C. small-diced apple
1/3 C. toasted sunflower seeds
1/4 C. olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/3 C. crumbled feta cheese
fresh herbs such as chives, basil, cut fine (optional)

Place finely diced red onion in a small bowl with cold water to cover. Let sit 5-10 minutes.
Wash the kale and spinach and pat it dry. Slice off the stiff stems of the kale below the leaves and continue slicing the stem away from the leaf until you have cut a thin v-shape into the kale leaf and removed the tough stem all the way up. Stack the kale leaves two or three at a time, roll them up, and slice the leaves into thin ribbons. Use the same technique to slice the spinach.
Place the kale ribbons in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and massage it into the kale with your hands for two minutes. You’ll notice the kale start to turn a darker green and the texture of the kale will begin to soften a bit.
Drain water from red onions and squeeze out excess water (This technique takes the "bite" out of them).
Add the spinach, red onions, blueberries and/or craisins, apples, and sunflower seeds to the kale. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar and sugar. Pour over the salad and toss. Sprinkle feta cheese & herbs, if using, over the top and serve. The salad can be refrigerated for up to a day before serving (if doing this, I would suggest refrigerating the salted kale separately from the other ingredients and tossing the salad together an hour or two before serving).

Monday, May 28, 2012


Twice Baked Potato Casserole
For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog, Angel's Homestead. I found myself bookmarking several of her tempting recipes, but I kept coming back to this one. As a kid, I loved twice baked potatoes, but we rarely ever had them. Maybe it was because my mom didn’t want to go to all the trouble and time to make them. Well, April has come up with a brilliant solution to that problem with this Twice-Baked Potato Casserole recipe. Once the potatoes were baked, it took just a few minutes to throw together and pop in the oven to let the cheese get all melted and gooey. The kids pretty much ignored everything else on their dinner plates!

Twice-Baked Potato Casserole

1.5 pounds potatoes (I used Yukon Gold), baked
Sea Salt, Pepper, Onion Powder to taste (I also added garlic powder)
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
6 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled
2 C. sour cream (I only used 1 1/4 C. of light)
Chopped Fresh Chives (my addition)
1 1/2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese

Cut baked potatoes into small cubes. Place half in a 8x11 or 9x13 baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray.  Drizzle 2 Tbsp. of the melted butter over the tops of the potatoes, then sprinkle with seasonings, chives and half the bacon. Dot with half the sour cream and cheeses. Repeat layers and bake in a 350 F. oven for 20 minutes, or until cheeses have melted. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Simple 3 Ingredient Ice Cream {With Brownie Chunks!}

Simple 3 Ingredient Ice Cream
My husband and I are HUGE ice cream fans! When we were first married, we seriously would grab a shake at our favorite local ice cream joint, Charlie’s, at least 3 or 4 times a week! Times have changed and our diets have evolved (thank goodness). But, we still hit Charlie’s a few times a month with the kids. My order is usually pretty custom, and kind of embarrassing, so even if my husband is the driver, he makes me lean all the way across him to give the gal my order. It usually goes something like this; “I’d like a regular size shake made with half soft serve frozen yogurt and half ice cream, with brownies and ________. And, if you could leave the brownie kinda chunky that would be great!” It’s funny how stone-faced those ice cream gals can be when I place my less than simple order!
I used to make ice cream at home quite a bit until my machine broke. I finally got a new one a few months ago, so I’m back at it. I got this recipe from my sister, who actually made it without an ice cream maker! It’s so incredibly easy, but dangerous because this is full fat, full sugar, and all the calories to go with it! But SOOOO good!

SIMPLE 3 INGREDIENT ICE CREAM                   makes about 1.5 quarts

2 C. Heavy Whipping Cream (or 1 C. each Half & Half and Heavy Cream)
1 (14 oz.) can Sweet & Condensed Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
(Add ins as desired such as brownie chunks, use my eggless cookie dough, Oreo chunks, fruit, etc.)

INSTRUCTIONS FOR ICE CREAM MAKER:  Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, being sure to thoroughly incorporate the condensed milk. Pour into ice cream maker and churn as per instructions. Mix your add ins into the ice cream, transfer to a sealed container and place in freezer for a few hours to firm up more, or enjoy as soft serve consistency!

INSTRUCTIONS WITHOUT ICE CREAM MAKER:  Whip heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Add sweet & condensed milk and vanilla. Stir until well combined. Add mix ins and freeze in freezer for 6 hours then serve!

Friday, May 11, 2012


Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Cheesecake Frosting
It’s a darn good thing this recipe only makes 12 cupcakes! It’s even better (for my waistline) that I made them as a “thank you” for my neighbor, and gave him half! I love the texture of these cupcakes. They are not light and airy like you’d get from a box. No, these are slightly dense and have the best chewy top; kind of like a peanut butter cookie sitting on top. The frosting is good enough to eat by itself, but I can’t wait to try them with strawberry jam frosting and maybe even add some banana to the cupcake!

Peanut Butter Cupcakes                     12 cupcakes
Recipe from How Sweet It Is

1/4 C. butter, softened
1/2 C. creamy peanut butter
1 C. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 C. all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/3 C. milk
3/4 C. peanut butter chips (or combo of peanut butter chips & chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 F. 

Cream butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add sugar and eggs and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla and mix for another minute. 

Combine dry ingredients in another bowl. Add half the dry ingredients to the peanut butter mixture and mix just until incorporated. Add milk. Once mixed, add rest of dry ingredients. Fold in peanut butter chips.

Divide batter equally between 12 cupcake tins. Bake 20 minutes, or until cake tester comes out almost clean. Cool and frost. 

Chocolate Cheesecake Frosting

1/4 C. butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla 
2 C. powdered sugar
1/4 C. cocoa powder
Few tsp. milk, if needed
chopped, salted peanuts, if desired

Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add powdered sugar 1/2 C. at a time, and add cocoa, increasing speed as mixing. If frosting is too thick, add milk to thin. Frost cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with chopped salted peanuts, if desired.