Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Quinoa mac & cheese

Review by Lyndee:

1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
Veggies of your choice (optional)
good pinch of salt
a few grinds of seasoning salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs
1 cup soy milk or non-fat milk
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese, more for sprinkling
Optional- Crushed Red Pepper, Panko Bread crumbs for topping
Toppings (optional)- salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, scallions

Lightly sauté any veggies you would like in this dish.  Cook quinoa to packaged instructions until fully cooked. (About 15 minutes)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat 13x9 inch dish with cooking spray. Whisk together eggs and milk in large bowl. Fold in quinoa mixture and cheese. Stir very well and let some of the cheese melt.  Transfer to prepared baking dish and if using Panko Crumbs or Bread crumbs add now and bake 30-35 mins, until bread crumbs are browned.

This was a bummer for me. I didn’t love it. It wasn’t “bad” but I think I was expecting something cheesier and a closer texture to mac and cheese. This is more like a rice casserole with a slight cheese flavor.  I would add more cheese and some of the optional ingredients or toppings for more flavor next time. I think I will continue to search for a different recipe that might be better as I have heard so many people that love the quinoa mac and cheese. Michael actually liked it and he can be a picky eater so I’m not saying it’s not for anyone, just wasn’t my favorite recipe ever.  

Monday, April 29, 2013

Hunters dish casserole

Review by Lyndee

6 medium baking potatoes (peeled and diced)
1 bag steamfresh corn
1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 can cream of mushroom soup
¾ cup milk
Salt & Pepper to taste

Boil peeled potatoes until they are easily pierced with a fork.  Meanwhile, brown your burger in a pan.  I cook mine with some chopped onions and minced garlic. Microwave corn according to directions on the bag.  You could also use a can of corn, drained.  Once done, drain the potatoes.  Add milk, cream of mushroom, burger and corn.  Stir together.  Salt and pepper to taste while the mixture heats on medium heat.  Once, heated through, serve warm. 

This is one of my favorite childhood recipes.  It’s cheap and easy to make, filling and very tasty.  My picky husband even liked it.  Feel free to add a slice of cheese or dash of hot sauce to your bowl of goodness if you want a little kick.  

Lazy lady strawberry spinach salad

Review by Lyndee

1 bag fresh baby spinach
1 pint strawberries (sliced up)
1 cup crumbled feta
½ cup sliced almonds
1 tsp Poppy seed
½ cup Raspberry vinaigrette (lite)

Toss all ingredients together and chill for an hour before serving.  Add more dressing if needed.  Onions are optional.  

I found lots of recipes for this where you could make your own raspberry and poppy seed dressing using sugar, vinegar, worcestershire  etc.  I didn't have the patience to go through all of that on a busy day so I threw it together like this.  It turned out just as good. It's a fun summery salad with a sweet taste to accompany your meal.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Breakfast pizza (healthified)

Review by Lyndee

1 flatout fold it bread or a tortilla
¼ cup egg beaters
shredded cheese (I used 2% reduced fat)
Ham, turkey bacon or sausage crumbles
1/8 fat free mayo
1 tsp Mustard
Options to add: diced onions, tomatoes or peppers

Preheat oven to 350.  Cook your egg beaters or scrambled eggs in a pan or microwave.  Mix mayo and mustard together.  Spread across the flatout bread as your “sauce”.  Add your meat (I used turkey bacon crumbles) and eggs.  Top with some shredded cheese.  You can use cheddar, mozzarella or a combo colby jack like I did.  Whatever cheese you prefer.  Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. I used my handy dandy pizazz and it comes out perfect every time.  

Brown sugar chicken (in the crockpot)

Review by Jami:

6 boneless, skinless breast halves or 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup lemon-lime soda
2/3 cup vinegar (I used white wine, but think regular white would be fine)
3 cloves smashed and chopped garlic
2 T soy sauce (La Choy and Tamari wheat free are GF)
1 tsp ground black pepper

Plop the chicken into your crockpot. Cover with the brown sugar, pepper, chopped garlic, and soy sauce. Add the vinegar, and pour in the soda. It will bubble!

Cover and cook on low for 6-9 hours, or on high for 4-5. The chicken is done when it is cooked through and has reached desired consistency. The longer you cook it, the more tender it will be.

Serve over a bowl of white rice with a ladle full of the broth.

The Plan: I wanted to make a rockin’ chicken dish without a lot of work. Crockpot! I skimmed some online options until I found one that sounded good and only required ingredients I had on hand. No grocery shopping for me, brown sugar chicken was the perfect solution.

The Changes: I actually followed the recipe for once but I used a wild rice mixture rather then white for more nutrition and plate appeal. Some homemade bread and snow peas rounded out the meal for us, but sides are up to you.

The Procedure: Dump everything in the slow cooker as directed. Come back several hours later and feast. Couldn’t be easier.

The Result: This dish was a hit with the family, though I found it a little too sweet. It would be great for kids though and a nice disguise for boring protein.

Recommendations: I used only 3 boneless, skinless breasts and they didn’t need to cook as long since I wasn’t making a large batch. I say start small and test the recipe first. I didn’t love it personally, but everyone else enjoyed it so maybe it’s just me. I give it an “ehh” and probably will experiment with other dishes before coming back to this one.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spinach & pepper jack stuffed chicken

Review by Lyndee

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded (you can use up to 6 oz)
1 c frozen spinach, thawed and drained (I used fresh spinach)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
1 tbsp breadcrumbs (I used Italian because that’s what was in the cupboard)
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Flatten the chicken to 1/4-inch thickness.  In a medium bowl, combine the pepper jack cheese, spinach, salt and pepper.  Combine the Cajun seasoning and breadcrumbs together in a small bowl.  Spoon about 1/4 c of the spinach mixture onto each chicken breast. 

Roll each chicken breast tightly and fasten with toothpicks.  Brush each chicken breast with the vegetable oil.  Sprinkle the Cajun seasoning mixture evenly over all. Sprinkle any remaining spinach and cheese on top of chicken (optional). 

Place the chicken seam-side down onto a tin foil-lined baking sheet (for easy cleanup).  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  Remove the toothpicks before serving.

This recipe turned out so awesome! I loved it! I didn’t have a meat tenderizer so I used a hammer and wax paper to flatten the chicken. I could’ve flattened it a little bit more to make the rolling easier, but it worked as is. Do not try to use a plastic ladle to flatten.  It will break, as I found out last night. I will definitely make this chicken again. It was so juicy and flavorful.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Reese’s peanut butter cup rice krispies

Review by Lyndee

4 peanut butter cups
2 tbsp peanut butter
6 cups of rice krispies

Melt peanut butter and peanut butter cups in a pan with butter.  Add 6 cups of rice krispies.  Drop and cool on a sheet or press into a buttered baking dish.  Cut into squares when cool. 

This recipe was wrong.  The people that pinned it are obviously missing an ingredient.  There were way too many rice krispies and not enough goo.  They didn’t stick together.  I even melted some more peanut butter, cups and kara syrup together and added that when I realized they weren’t going to stick.  It helped a little bit but basically you just have flavored rice krispies.  Don’t get me wrong, the flavor is awesome.  Sprinkle this on some ice cream or just eat it with a spoon, but these do not work for bars or cookies.  Total bummer. 

Personal Sized Baked Oatmeal with Individual Toppings

Review by Jami:

3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
5 full droppers of Stevia  
1/2 c Sucanat ( Use 1 c. of honey or a full cup of sucanat if you don’t have Stevia, but I highly recommend buying the vanilla creme Stevia)
1 c. applesauce, unsweetened
5 c. old fashioned oats
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp cinnamon
3 c. 1 % milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all liquid ingredients except milk. Add sucanat. Add the fruit gently to the wet mixture. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl then pour into the wet and mix well. Add the milk, mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

I wanted an easy breakfast or snack option that was portable and healthy. This recipe seemed like the perfect solution and I was excited to try it.

The Changes: I decided to use egg whites rather than a full egg for less calories and cholesterol. I added some wheat germ (1/4 cup to be exact) because what the hell, more healthy stuff can’t hurt. I also used almond slices, raisins and sweetened coconut flakes to the mix. I didn’t bother with the individual toppings since the whole family likes the afore mentioned, but I do think it’s a great option for the picky pants.

I also made one batch of 12 and thought it tasted a little bland, so I added two scoops of vanilla protein powder for added sweetness and more protein. I have a houseful of fitness fanatics who can never get enough, so any chance to add protein is always a benefit.

The Procedure: Mix all the ingredients and spoon into cupcake liners. The batter is wet enough to easily do this by hand, but use a mixer if you prefer. I sprayed the first batch with cooking spray but didn’t bother with the rest. If you’re careful peeling off the liners, I don’t think spray is necessary. The liners come off fairly easily, especially after they’ve cooled.

The Result: I ended up with over 3 dozen of these, I don’t know why it was so different than the original post but I’m not complaining. I froze 2 dozen for the future and we’ll put away the remaining throughout the week.

Recommendations: If you are following the original recipe, I would definitely recommend adding more sweetness, either with sweetener or additions like chocolate chips, raisins, etc. My batch was pretty bland and “healthy” tasting which is fine for me but not so much for kids, though I think personalizing them might help. Don’t be afraid to add a couple of not-necessarily-healthy ingredients to yum them up a little. A good idea and recipe, I’ll probably make this again but with more sweet things.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Overnight apple oatmeal

Review by Lyndee:


2 sliced apples
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 cups of oatmeal
2 cups of milk
2 cups water

Place apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in the bottom of the crockpot.  Do not stir.  Pour in oatmeal, milk and water.  Again, do not stir.  Cook overnight for 8 - 9 hours on low.

This was cheap, easy to make and smelled great in the morning. I eagerly got a bowl and dug in.  The first bite was delicious. And then I got a bite with apple. And the texture of the skin was nasty! I checked numerous recipes and none said whether or not to peel your apples.  Apparently, it’s a personal preference left open for the reader.  I would highly recommend peeling the apples though! You have a soft, mushy oatmeal and then you get this weird texture from the apple skin. I will try this again without the skins and I think it will be perfect.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Healthified biscuit egg casserole

Review by Lyndee:

Original Ingredients:
1 can of 8 count buttermilk biscuits
1 pound of any breakfast sausage roll
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese  
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
5 eggs, beaten
2 egg whites
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Ingredients that I used to healthify:
1 can of reduced fat buttermilk biscuits
1 pound of Fareway ground turkey breakfast sausage
2 cups of colby jack shredded cheese
2 cups of egg beaters
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 °F. Crumble and cook sausage in skillet over medium heat until browned. Drain.

Line bottom of greased 8 x 8 inch baking dish with biscuit dough, firmly pressing perforations to seal. Sprinkle with sausage and cheese.  Whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until blended; pour over sausage and cheese.

Bake 30 minutes or until set (A knife should come out clean when inserted in the center). Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting into squares; serve warm.  **To Avoid burning or excessive browning on top of casserole, cover with foil for half of cooking time (first 15 minutes)**

The healthified version of this was really good. I did not cover the casserole with foil while baking so mine got a little more brown than normal but I will remember to do it next time.  This was cheap and super easy to make for a warm, healthified breakfast. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

M&M Sugar Cookies (healthified)

Review by Lyndee:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling (I used splenda)
2 oz cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces (I used reduced fat)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 large egg, at room temperature (I used egg beaters)
1 tablespoon milk (I used coconut milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1 1/4 cups M&M's

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.  Combine 1 1/2 cups of sugar and cream cheese in a large bowl (no need to stir them together yet). Put the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a pie plate and set aside. Pour the warm butter over the cream cheese mixture and whisk to combine - the mixture won't be completely smooth yet, that's fine. Whisk in the oil then the egg, milk and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.

Use a rubber spatula to start folding the dry ingredients into the wet. When the dry ingredients are partially incorporated, add 3/4 cup of the M&M's to the dough. Continue mixing until a soft dough comes together. (Don't wait to add the M&M's until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated - you'll end up overmixing.) Refrigerate 2-3 hours.

Portion the dough onto the prepared baking sheets with a cookie scoop, using about 2 tablespoons for each cookie. Working quickly (if you handle the dough too much you're more likely to wind up with flat cookies), roll the dough into a ball with your hands then roll in the sugar set aside in the pie plate previously. Repeat until you've used all of the dough, placing 12 cookies on each baking sheet.

Use the bottom of a glass to flatten the dough balls into discs that are about 2 inches in diameter. Gently press 3 more M&M's into the top of each cookie. NOTE: Your M&Ms on top will crack from the heat while baking so I wait to put the M&Ms on top of the cookie until right after they come out of the oven. Just press however many you want on top right when they come out and they won't crack!

Bake the cookies, 1 tray at a time, for about 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are set (do not wait until the edges or brown or the cookies will be overdone….you want these to be a soft chewy cookie).  Remove from oven and press the M&Ms on top if you haven't already put them on top. The tops of the cookies will be puffy and slightly cracked. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes then transfer them to the rack to cool completely.  Makes about 24 cookies.

My husband and I thought these turned out really well. And you can’t tell that I made some modifications to save on fat and calories.  I made this smaller than instructed so that we got 36 cookies and also, a bit better for portion control.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Aloha burger foil packs

Review by Lyndee

1 pound Burger
1/8 cup Bacon bits
1 can crushed or diced Pineapple
1 tbsp Garlic
1 tsp Pepper
1 tbsp Teriyaki
1 tsp Soy sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together burger, bacon bits and seasonings and sauces.  Form into patties.  Place on foil sprayed with non-stick spray.  Scoop on some pineapple and drizzle with a little more teriyaki.  Cook in the oven for 45 minutes. 

I was so excited for this but ended up a bit disappointed.  I cooked mine for 30 minutes per the directions I had found on a different post.  It was not done and I was getting hungry so I threw it in a pan for a few minutes until it was cooked through.  The flavor was great and I even added a piece of pepperjack cheese.  You could add more pineapple if you wanted. I didn’t use a bun but obviously that is an option or serve over a bed or rice.  Next time I would try 45 minutes or just make the same mixture and make it on the grill, adding the pineapple at the very end.  Or in a campfire. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

NE Iowa Stroganoff

Review by Lyndee

1 lb ground beef
1 bag egg noodles
1 can cream of mushroom
1 cup skim milk

Boil egg noodles per package directions.  Brown ground beef with some sliced up onion.  Season with pepper and garlic powder.  Drain noodles when done and turn heat to medium.  Add the ground beef and remaining ingredients.  Stroganoff is done when cheese is melted and mixture is warmed through. 
My mom used to make this for us as kids and it’s one of my comfort food favorites on a cold day when you need something that is filling and delicious.  Super easy and cheap to make.  And it makes a pretty big batch so you can enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day! 

healthy very berry smoothie

Review by Lyndee

1/2 cup coconut milk
4 oz vanilla yogurt
10 blackberries
10 raspberries
3 ice cubes

Throw all ingredients in the magic bullet or blender.  This was a super sweet treat but I would maybe add a banana next time or double the yogurt to make it a little thicker.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

Not your mama’s baked beans

Review by Lyndee

2 cans of your favorite baked beans (I used Busch’s baked beans)
1 pound lean burger
½ pound bacon
¼ barbecue sauce
½ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp Chili powder
1 tbsp Cayenne pepper
1 tbsp Black pepper

Brown bacon and burger in a pot.  

Once done, add all the other ingredients and simmer on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. You can add more pepper or barbecue sauce to taste.  These can be made in a crockpot on low for 4 hours too.  Super easy to throw together for any gathering.  

Ice cream sandwich cake

Review by Lyndee

24 ice cream sandwiches
16 oz of cool whip
1 jar(s) caramel sundae topping
1 bag of your favorite candy, coarsely chopped

Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with foil.  Lay half of the ice cream sandwiches (whole) in the bottom of the pan, trimming the last one to get it to fit.  Top with half of the cool whip, half of the caramel sundae topping and half of the candy.  Repeat these steps again, cover and freeze. 

I only had a few squirts of caramel topping left so I threw on some hot fudge topping as well. I used Reese’s peanut butter cups for the candy.  This was easy to make.  The only thing that took time was unwrapping the ice cream sandwiches and peanut butter cups.  This was excellent! A total hit at Michael’s birthday party.  And the possibilities are endless.  You could use the red velvet, mint or birthday cake batter flavored ice cream sandwiches too and then pick your candy to suit.  Will definitely be making this again this summer and trying the mint version.  Yum! 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Creamy Avocado Pasta

Review by Jami

1 medium sized ripe Avocado, pitted
1/2 lemon, juiced + lemon zest to garnish
1-3 garlic cloves, to taste (I used 3 and it was super garlicky, but if you are not a big fan of garlic use 1 clove)
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 cup Fresh Basil, (probably optional)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 servings/6 oz of your choice of pasta (I used 3oz of spelt and 3 oz of Kamut spaghetti)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Bring several cups of water to a boil in a medium sized pot. Add in your pasta, reduce heat to medium, and cook until Al Dente, about 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by placing the garlic cloves, lemon juice, and olive oil into a food processor. Process until smooth. Now add in the pitted avocado, basil, and salt. Process until smooth and creamy.

When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse in a strainer and place pasta into a large bowl. Pour on sauce and toss until fully combined. Garnish with lemon zest and black pepper. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

Please note: This dish does not reheat well due to the avocado in the sauce. Please serve immediately.

Oh She Glows is one of my favorite blogs for recipes. Everything I’ve ever made or tasted is exceptional. Even though I am not a vegan, I try to cook healthy and use natural ingredients. I thought this recipe looked delicious and it had all the ingredients I needed to use up before they went bad. I also added some red bell pepper that was at the end of its life, which ended up being a good decision.

I threw all of the ingredients in the food processor and just a minute later I had a creamy, delicious sauce for a quick and easy pasta dish. I used plain ole spaghetti, but you could use any type of pasta, spaghetti squash or zucchini. I didn’t have fresh garlic on hand so I used a spoonful of minced garlic instead of cloves.

Everyone agreed that the sauce was delish even though it was healthy. I completed the meal with some garlic bread to unveganize it a little. And when I make it again, I think a bit of grilled chicken would be a perfect compliment and add some much-needed protein. The bell pepper gave the sauce a very nice flavor, even though the original recipe did not call for it, I will definitely use it again.  

The original post warned that the sauce does not reheat well, so I kept the leftovers separate in the fridge. I super-heated the noodles, then added the cold sauce which resulted in a semi-warm lunch the next day but it was still just as good. La-la-la love this dish and can’t wait to make this again!

Big ups for 15 Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Yarn Balls

The week before Easter, the kids and I tried to make those yarn balls that I've been seeing on Pinterest.  For example, check out http://www.makeandtakes.com/glue-yarn-ball-tutorial.  She does an amazing job, with a just as amazing tutorial.

My attempt was to make Yarn Ball Easter Eggs by blowing balloons up really big and then the yarns ball would come out looking more oval-shaped (i.e. Easter Egg shaped).

I started out by gathering the necessary materials: balloons, Modge Podge (instead of Elmer's glue and water mixture) and yarn.
In addition to dipping the yarn in the modge podge before stringing it on the balloon, the kids and I painted modge podge onto the balloon (that may have been our first mistake).  Also, I'm thinking this project works better with smaller (less-inflated) balloons (perhaps our second mistake).  
Then, we wrapped our yarn all around the balloon.  I would suggest putting more glue on the actual yarn than the balloon.
Then, we let our balloons dry overnight.  I also sprayed each balloon very well with Modge Podge spray.
The next morning we were excited to pop our balloons and see our yarn easter eggs.

We popped the first egg, and....
All of the yarn remained sticking to the balloon during the deflation process (okay, that's what we called the process -- I don't think deflation is a word, but it sounds good).  Anyways...

We attempted to remove the balloon and restore the egg...
But, the best we could make out of this project failure was a poor attempt at a colorful hat for Jack.
I don't know if we'll try this project again.  I wasted a lot of yarn with this project.  If I did the project again, I would definitely NOT coat the balloon with modge podge, and I would only blow up the balloons smaller.  I do not want to have this same end result...
Please share any tips you may have for this project.  If I knew what I did wrong or how to do it correctly, I would try it again.