Helpful Hints with printable shopping list

This week I was asked to speak at my MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers) about cooking, recipes and a little about my blog. It was such a honor to address my friends and fellow MOPS mommies!

Being a very awkward public speaker with minimal experience, I was a little nervous but I got in a groove. Especially since this a topic I feel comfortable talking about with good friends. I thought I would put some of my talking points and printed pages out there so others might benefit as well!

Cooking and prep tips

-do a little prep work at home on day you shop. Find the recipes, browse your fridge and pantry and write down the specifics on your list.

– make weekly shopping list and menu items
(use below shopping list) forecast all meals

– do shopping only 1 time a week to lower costs

– wash and prep fruits as needed (apples grapes berries strawberries in sink full of water and Tbl of white vinegar for 20-30 minutes)

– prep/make dinner when your time is available. You don’t always have to do it 30 min to an hour before dinner time.

– make meal prep a fun family activity- turn on music, age-appropriate kitchen tasks, ask kids to smell or taste some ingredients.

– eat dinner as a family as often as possible where everyone eats the same thing.

– don’t give up on kids that don’t eat certain things. Sometimes it takes 30 times before they eat.

– set the table to eat

– blogs that I enjoy cooking from or give me ideas to make something similar

– do what works for your family with your time

– get kids involved in your shopping prepping and cooking

**This is a shopping/prep list that I made from an E-meals list and a weekly calendar. Its helpful to write down the meal, whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner and where that recipe is found. That way, you can post the paper at home to alert your hungry family member of the meal and find the recipe quickly when its time to start.**

Shopping list

This list is great from those wanting a fresh start to meal planning or just a reminder of things you will need to have on hand to make a variety of great meals. I find it helpful to glance over every once in a while to keep a good stock of staples in case you need that corn starch (or whatever) and thought you had it in the back!

pantry-essentials

This is also a wonderful list to consult to get out of a rut of foods that you always eat. Need something new? Try a food in the current season since it will be ripe in season and more nutritionally good for you. It might also be helpful to try and cook a food you know your family loves, Broccoli per say and try roasting it if you usually always steam it.

food by season

My favorite recipes that I printed and included in my presentation were:

Easy Cauliflower Puree

Cider Oatmeal

Chicken with sweet potatoes and spinach

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Taco soup

Honey grilled chicken 

Thanks again to the Point Baptist Mops group for asking me to speak!!! I loved it 🙂

cookie jar mix

Cookie Jar Mix

Christmas time is the best! We all enjoy this season’s festive decorations, happy moods and the magical time of complete and total mental breakdowns!!!! AHHH! Just kidding.

But part of the wonder of Christmas is seeing your kids experience it all. Santa Claus footprints, the reindeer food and the hopes of snow. Unfortunately, Florida or Texas (where Santa will be visiting us) won’t be having a white Christmas this year and one little 5 year olds dreams will be crushed. Maybe it will be cold at least!

IMG_3737santa

That being said, Christmas cookies are always a must. I love making cookies with my kids…. (obviously check it out here or here). This year though, I decided to do a cookie jar mix in pint size jars. We gave them to our preschool teachers, neighbors, family and friends. They were super easy to make and both kids loved helping. I just set up an assembly line of ingredients and made sure each one had the right amount. Of course we had to taste test a few recipes to make sure they were going to be ok, haha! But you could just swap out for the basic color m&m’s for any holiday or event, you know, like a Tuesday.

M&M Cookie Jar Mix

Layer in jar:

1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp each, baking powder and baking soda
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup M&Ms (red & green for Christmas!)
1/4 mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup light brown sugar (spread with back of teaspoon to press down)
1/4 cup white sugar

*If any room remains at top, add a few more chocolate chips!*

Cookie Jar Mix Cookie Jar Mix

Instructions:

Screw on lids tightly. Add a festive square of fabric and tie with cord or ribbon under lip of jar rim. I printed a card to include the recipe. Here is my directions:

Empty cookie mix jar into a mixing bowl; mix well. Add 1/4 cup melted butter, 1 beaten egg and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Mix until blended. Roll or scoop into 1″balls and place 2″ apart on uncreased cookie sheet. Bake @ 375 until edges are browned, 12-15 min. Cool 5 min and transfer to wire racks to cool. Enjoy! Yields 1 dozen.

cookiemix1

They are incredibly easy to make from the jar. I still love my cookie scoop for these! It’s so much easier than rolling out the cookies and having them be different sizes and getting your hands dirty! No thanks.

I adapted this from Bakerella‘s recipe.

Cookie Jar MixCookie Jar Mix

IMG_3872 Cookie Jar Mix

Cookie Jar Mix
Author: 
Recipe type: baked goodies
 
This mix can be made in a jar to give away or keep for a rainy day. It includes instructions for the cookie jar mix as well that can be printed.
Ingredients
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp each, baking powder and baking soda
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup M&Ms (red & green for Christmas!)
  • ¼ mini chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar (spread with back of teaspoon to press down)
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • *If any room remains at top, add a few more chocolate chips!*
Instructions
  1. Layer above ingredients in a jar. Screw on lids tightly. Add a festive square of fabric and tie with cord or ribbon under lip of jar. I printed a card to include the recipe.
  2. Here are my directions:
  3. Empty cookie mix jar into a mixing bowl; mix well. Add ¼ cup melted butter, 1 beaten egg and ½ tsp vanilla. Mix until blended. Roll or scoop into 1"balls and place 2" apart on uncreased cookie sheet. Bake @ 375 until edges are browned, 12-15 min. Cool 5 min and transfer to wire racks to cool. Enjoy! Yields 1 dozen. Here is my directions:

 

Please let me know what you thought of the Cookie Jar Mix! I would love to hear from you!

easy cauliflower puree

Easy Cauliflower Puree

This recipe comes from a few years ago when my family wasn’t eating grains, dairy, sugar and many other delicious things. (This post explains why we were doing that.) Thankfully those days are behind us! But the best thing that happened from that experience was some new and different recipes that I never would have cooked before that time. My kids learned to eat some new things and it opened them up to some new foods I hadn’t really thought about or even attempted to cook.

Easy Cauliflower Puree is my favorite thing to make when I’m scrambling to put dinner on the table. Its about 20 minutes from start to finish. Also, it can be put on subbed by replacing the sweet potatoes on top of the Cottage Pie. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

I will say this: I don’t pretend this is potatoes. We call it cauliflower and they still eat it! Haha! It has a different flavor but it can be seasoned as such.

Sometimes I add other ingredients if we want to mix it up:

1/2 cup greek yogurt or sour cream and 1/2 cup shredded cheese

2 TBL butter and 1/2 cup milk

3 chopped slices of bacon and sautéed chopped onion and jalapeños.

Easy Cauliflower Puree

World’s best and easy cauliflower puree. I promise. Of all the recipes I make on a regular basis, I use this one the most.

You will need:

1 large pot to cook in

an immersion blender like this one (or traditional blender)

Ingredients:

cauliflower head (mine was about 9-10 inches across)
1 TBL olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper

Directions:

Cut the cauliflower into quarters. Diagonally chop the core out of each quarter and roughly chop into 2-3 inch pieces. Neatness doesn’t count here!

easy cauliflower pureeIMG_3615

 

Add the oil and cauliflower all in the pot on medium high heat. Stir until the cauliflower stars to brown in a few spots, 3-4 minutes.

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Add the garlic cloves and continue stirring for 2 more minutes. Add the chicken broth and salt and pepper. Turn heat down to medium low and cover. Cook 15-18 minutes, stirring 1 -2 times. Add a splash of broth if it cooks away to quickly.

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When florets are soft and easily mashed with a spoon, turn off heat and blend with immersion blender until smooth. (Either in pot which is easier or spoon into traditional blender.)

easy cauliflower pureeeasy cauliflower puree

Taste for seasoning.

 

This is what my kids look like after dinner:

easy cauliflower puree easy cauliflower puree

Told ya 😉

Easy Cauliflower Puree
Author: 
Recipe type: side dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Easy Cauliflower Puree is a versatile and easy side dish to complement any meal.
Ingredients
  • cauliflower head (about 9-10 inches diameter)
  • 1 TBL olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1½ cup chicken broth
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut the cauliflower into quarters. Diagonally chop the core out of each quarter and roughly chop into 2-3 inch pieces. Neatness doesn't count here!
  2. Add the oil and cauliflower all in the pot on medium high heat. Stir until the cauliflower stars to brown in a few spots, 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic cloves and continue stirring for 2 more minutes. Add the chicken broth and salt and pepper. Turn heat down to medium low and cover. Cook 15-18 minutes, stirring 1 -2 times. Add a splash of broth if it cooks away to quickly.
  4. When florets are soft and easily mashed with a spoon, turn off heat and blend with immersion blender until smooth. (Either in pot which is easier or spoon into traditional blender.) Taste for seasoning.
  5. Additional stir-in for extra flavor:1/2 cup greek yogurt or sour cream and ½ cup shredded cheese OR 2TBL butter and ½ cup milk OR 3chopped slices of cooked bacon and sautéed chopped onion and jalapeños.

 

Please let me know what you thought of the Easy Cauliflower Puree! I would love to hear from you!

everything marinade

The Everything Marinade

Now that my kids are getting older, I find them playing together as peers more and more often. Especially since my 5 year old can read to my 3 year old, they really do seem like best buds together! Not that they don’t get into sibling spats and brawls but I often find them like this:

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And this is bedtime the other night. Of course.

dress-up

And before a run last week. Those rain boots usually make an appearance, even when the sun is brightly shining!

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Anyways, enough about the kids!

Over here at my house, we are always looking for a different (but easy!) way to flavor meat.  However, this is the recipe we use when we DON’T do something interesting and new. Its the old stand-by, the easy no-brainer and simple as anything! It gives the meat moisture and a delicious seasoned flavor. Now, I’ve only been using the homemade version for a short time. The other way was a bottle of something store bought but this tastes better, and there’s nothing mystery (or hard-to-pronounce) about it!

everything marinade

The Everything Marinade

This could be used for steaks, chicken breasts, chicken thighs, burgers, pork tenderloins or pork chops or whatever you like to cook! We usually throw it on the grill after marinading but it can be baked, sautéed or whatever kind of cooking method floats your boat!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T ground ginger
  • 1 c soy sauce (low sodium)
  • 1 c water
  • ½ tsp liquid smoke (optional) I don’t usually use this but it just adds that little something extra.

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir or use a mason jar and shake vigorously. Pour half of recipe into zip top bag or container and add meat to marinade. Leave for minimum 30 minutes or up to 8 hours. Store remainder of marinade tightly closed with lid for up to 1 week. Can be used in a freezer bag with meat for 1 month.

 

We like to have our marinaded steaks with mashed sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli. It always gets gobbled up every time!

everything marinadeeverything marinade

The Everything Marinade
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 recipes
 
This marinade is great for any and everything!
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T ground ginger
  • 1 c soy sauce (low sodium)
  • 1 c water
  • ½ tsp liquid smoke (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir or use a mason jar and shake vigorously.
  2. Pour half of recipe into zip top bag or container and add meat to marinade. Leave for minimum 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
  3. Store remainder of marinade tightly closed with lid for up to 1 week. Can be used in a freezer bag with meat for 1 month.

Please let me know what you thought of the Everything Marinade! I would love to hear from you!

Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies

Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies

Since school is now starting back up and we are getting into a good routine, I have a little more time on my hands! As any parent knows, summer is a blessing with the long days and excitement of vacations and endless ice cream popsicles. However, good things must always come to an end and school is back in session. (Thank Goodness!)

I was thinking that these cookies would be a good teacher gift, but really they are great for anytime of year. When you feel there’s a need to bring a gift to someone, maybe a family member or a friend that’s having a hard time, these cookies are wonderful. They take minimal time and a mixer does all the work for you. Plus my kids love to help with this since everything is just dump it in and scrape the bowl sides every one in a while.

Plus it makes a whole bunch so you can really spread the wealth very easily! And with oats and coconut in these, they could almost be breakfast, right?!

Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies
Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies

Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut (I use unsweetened. If using sweetened, reduce sugar to 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup raisins and/or dried cranberries (I like to mix them half and half)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies
Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In the electric mixer bowl, cream the butter by mixing on medium speed for 15-20 seconds. Add the sugars, baking powder and soda.

Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies
Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies

Beat until combined and scrape down side to incorporate all ingredients. Add in egg and vanilla and beat again, scraping sides if needed.

Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies
Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies
Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies
Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies

Turn mixer on lowest speed and add flour in 1/4 cup at a time to incorporate slowly. Add in oats, coconut, dried fruit and chocolate chips.

Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies
Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies
Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies
Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies

Drop cookies with a scoop 2 inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. (I use a scoop like this one.) Bake 10-12 minutes until cookies are set throughout and edges have browned slightly. Transfer off sheet to let cool.

Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies
Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen.

Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Baked Goodies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 dozen
 
Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies are a delicious, easy-to-make drop cookie with a hearty bite of raisins, dried cranberries and a sweet surprise of chocolate chips.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup softened butter
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cup flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (I use unsweetened. If using sweetened, reduce sugar to ¼ cup)
  • ½ cup raisins and/or dried cranberries (I like to mix them half and half)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In the electric mixer bowl, cream the butter by mixing on medium speed for 15-20 seconds. Add the sugars, baking powder and soda.
  2. Beat until combined and scrape down side to incorporate all ingredients. Add in egg and vanilla and beat again, scraping sides if needed.
  3. Turn mixer on lowest speed and add flour in ¼ cup at a time to incorporate slowly. Add in oats, coconut, dried fruit and chocolate chips.
  4. Drop cookies with a scoop 2 inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until cookies are set throughout and edges have browned slightly. Transfer off sheet to let cool.

 

Please let me know what you thought of the Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies! I would love to hear from you!

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Time just keeps getting away from me and I can only hold on for the ride! We just sailed through Thanksgiving (from when I started this post!) and Christmas (we traveled) and New Years (friends came in town) and now broaching on March!

This cauliflower pizza recipe is one I’ve made a handful of times. I like to add some herbs and seasonings to the crust, which otherwise is bland. Also, we haven’t topped our pizzas the same way twice. It’s very versatile and easily accommodates a variety of flavors. We like the more traditional toppings, usually some vegetable like bell peppers or mushrooms and a meat like sausage or pepperoni. Although, you could get really creative and change it up to your heart’s desire!

The kids and I ate this cauliflower pizza quite a few times with my husband gone and it was always super easy. The kids love to help pick out the toppings, prepare it, and then eat it! It would be a little too light if all 4 of us were to eat it but I bet it would be perfect with a lot of toppings and a big side salad.

I first got the idea from a friend who used Rachel Ray’s cauliflower pizza recipe. I made just a few changes based on my experiences with making this a handful of times.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

1 lb cauliflower head
2 eggs
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
salt & pepper

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

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Cut up cauliflower into florets about 1 inch in size. Using a food processor, chop cauliflower until chopped evenly and finely.

IMG_3299 IMG_3307

Pour cauliflower into a microwave-safe bowl, and cook for five minutes or until tender. Allow to cool and place cauliflower in a paper towel then wrap in towel, and ring out all the excess water so it is completely dry. (Also this towel might have some lingering scents, so do yourself a favor and throw it in the wash, just experience talking here!)

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Back in the bowl, mix egg, spices and cauliflower until well-combined.   On a parchment-lined baking sheet, press out and shape cauliflower dough until it resembles a pizza round. Your hands are really the best tool here. My kids love this part!

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Bake for 40 minutes.  Remove and top with desired toppings and bake in oven for 7 minutes or until cheese and toppings have cooked and melted.

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We have used a variety of kinds of toppings: bell peppers, pepperoni, sausage, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. Anything goes here!

Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Gluten Free, Dairy Free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Cauliflower is transformed into a yummy pizza crust for a light, easy dinner.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb cauliflower head
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp basil
  • salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut up cauliflower into florets about 1 inch in size. Using a food processor, chop cauliflower until chopped evenly and finely.
  3. Pour cauliflower into a microwave-safe bowl, and cook for five minutes or until tender. Allow to cool and place cauliflower in a paper towel then wrap in towel, and ring out all the excess water so it is completely dry.
  4. Back in the bowl, mix egg, spices and cauliflower until well-combined. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, press out cauliflower dough until it resembles a pizza round. Your hands are really the best tool here.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove and top with desired toppings and bake in oven for 7 minutes or until cheese and toppings have cooked and melted.


Please let me know what you thought of the Cauliflower Pizza Crust! I would love to hear from you!

Taco Soup

Taco Soup with Cilantro Cream

Welcome to winter! Except that it’s still fall… in Florida…. We had to wear something other than flip flops which was so weird. Then, I had to put an actual coat on my children, and not just to school! Even home from school! It was just weird all around. It would be better if there were a picture of them wearing said coats, but alas, I do not. Oops. Hey, we can’t all be perfect, right!

Anyways, back to cold! Whenever it gets a little chilly, I automatically want something for dinner that will really keeps you warm! Growing up, my mom used to make this amazing, delicious taco soup and oh man, it was so good. Like, eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so good! I craved it like crazy when I was pregnant with Harper and made it immediately after my mom emailed me the recipe. And it was so worth it! Even with all the taco seasoning, ranch packet and block of Velveeta were worth it!

Tonight, however, I decided to give myself a challenge…. make the beloved Taco Soup, without those 3 above items! (Since I didn’t have them and didn’t want to get out in said cold with said children in said coats to buy them!)

So, here is the recipe of my taco soup. And I got pretty darn close! I even made up an extra topper to mimic the creamy velveeta!

Taco Soup
Taco Soup
cilantro
Cilantro
Cilantro cream
Cilantro Cream

Taco Soup with Cilantro Cream
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Taco soup gets a healthy update without the taco seasoning, ranch packet and velveeta of my beloved mother's version.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1½ T chili powder
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder, onion powder, each
  • ½ tsp oregano, cilantro each
  • 8 oz salsa
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can hominy
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup sour cream or greek yogurt
  • 1 lime, halved
  • Shredded cheese
Instructions
  1. Brown the beef in a large pot over medium high heat with onion and bell pepper. Cook about 5 minutes to soften onion.
  2. Add chili powder, cumin, garlic and onion powder, oregano and cilantro. Stir to combine. Add salsa and season with salt and pepper and simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  3. While spices and beef are cooking, drain black beans, kidney beans and hominy. Rinse.
  4. Add to pot and stir to incorporate.
  5. Add chicken stock and 1 cup of water and diced tomatoes. Bring to boil on high.
  6. Turn heat to low and cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  7. While soup is simmering, prepare cilantro cream. Hand chop or blend cilantro until leaves are very finely minced. Mix sour cream and half of lime juice in a small bowl. Stir together with cilantro and set aside.
  8. When soup is done, add juice from the other half of lime and stir.
  9. Serve warm with cheese and dollop of cilantro cream.

 

Taco Soup
Taco Soup

Thankfully this will be all gone by the time it gets back up to 75 degrees in a few days!

Please let me know what you thought about the Taco Soup! I would love to hear!

Brownie Pudding Cake

Last Friday was my son’s 2nd birthday. We had already celebrated with a party 2 weekends before so I didn’t have a lot of extra stuff planned. There was a Happy Birthday banner, a few balloons and some presents. Typical birthday items. So instead of buying more cupcakes, I chose to have him and my daughter help me make a cake. Now I have made the brownie pudding cake before for Harper’s birthday and not only is it ridiculously easy, it’s so yummy and a little more special than a typical cake.

The kids love to help me pour each ingredient in the bowl and mix it together. And I don’t have to worry about anything getting screwed up! It’s also egg and butter free so its nice if you don’t eat that or just forgot to pick it up at the store! It’s actually a throw back recipe from the 1930s and 40s when things like sugar, eggs and butter had to be restricted. But doesn’t lack any of the richness and chocolatey goodness you want in something called Brownie Pudding Cake!

Brownie Pudding Cake

Ingredients:

  • cup flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • TBL cocoa powder
  • tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • TBL oil
  • tsp vanillla
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cup hot water
  • vanilla ice cream

ingredients-for-brownie-pudding-cake

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8in x 8in baking pan and set aside. In a bowl, stir together the first 5 ingredients. Stir in the milk, oil, vanilla and chocolate chips.

gonna-make-brownie-pudding-cakestirring-for-brownie-pudding-cake

Pour batter into baking pan. In another bowl, mix the brown sugar and 1/4 cup of cocoa powder. Add the hot water and stir. Slowly pour mixture over batter.

batter-for-brownie-pudding-cakemaking-brownie-pudding-cake

Bake for 38-40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for approx. an hour.

baking-brownie-pudding-cake

Serve warm in bowls. Scoop cake and spoon pudding from bottom over the cake. Vanilla ice cream makes a great addition! (We forgot that at the store, but it didn’t even need it. The birthday boy didn’t mind!)

brownie-pudding-cake-with-candlebrownie-pudding-cake-YUM

Brownie Pudding Cake
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 9 servings
 
Half pudding, half brownie that magically transforms in the oven!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 2 TBL cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 TBL oil
  • 1 tsp vanillla
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1½ cup hot water
  • vanilla ice cream
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8 baking pan and set aside. In a bowl, stir together the first 5 ingredients. Stir in the milk, oil, vanilla and chocolate chips.
  2. Pour batter into baking pan. In another bowl, mix the brown sugar and ¼ cup of cocoa powder. Add the hot water and stir. Slowly pour mixture over batter.
  3. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for approximately an hour.
  4. Serve warm in bowls by spooning out cake and then pudding over cake. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Please let me know what you thought of the Brownie Pudding Cake! I would love to hear from you!

Fresh Zucchini and Tomato Sauce Ricotta

Fresh Zucchini & Tomato Sauce with Ricotta

Fall is around the corner. Summer is over pretty much for most of the country. But when you live in Florida, it’s still hot as ever with no real end in sight! September is just as hot as June, and just as humid! As much as I wish it was fall weather, it for sure, is not. So I’m not really ready to turn to hot stews and tall boots and jeans and the like. I might keel over with heat stroke! At Target, I don’t know who is ordering those giant, piping-hot pumpkin spice lattes! Its not me, for sure!

So the other night, I was wanting something fresh, light and easy (since it was just myself and the kids). Plus I wanted to use those few extra tomatoes left over from my neighbor. (So sweet of her!)

I got the idea of the fresh zucchini & tomato sauce with ricotta recipe from a skillet lasagna recipe where the sauce is made in the pan similar to this. I loved the fresh taste of the tomato and the creamy ricotta on top. The sauce has a little more texture than a typical jarred sauce but its delicious and super easy! We had some extra cooked chicken so I chopped that up, threw it in the bowl and dinner was ready!

Fresh Zucchini & Tomato Sauce with Ricotta

Ingredients:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-7 medium Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 Large or 2 medium zucchini, diced small
  • 2 T each basil, parsley, chopped (plus 1 T more for finishing)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 T grated parmesan cheese
  • Chopped basil and/or parsley to finish

Directions:

Warm the oil in a medium pan on medium high heat. Add the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened. Add the garlic and cook until golden, 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, zucchini and herbs (not including the reserved ones for afterwards). Add salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat to medium and cook until starting to break down, 6-7 minutes. Remove half of the sauce to a separate bowl. Using an immersion blender or just a masher, puree/mash the mixture a few times so it starts to become smooth. Add it back to the pan and stir in 1 T the parmesan.

Now, technically the sauce could be done but the ricotta topping just make its so much scrumptious! Mix together the ricotta, mozzarella and the remaining 1 T of parmesan and a dash of salt and pepper. I put a big spoonful of the ricotta on top of this (or any tomato sauce!). Scatter the chopped basil and parsley to finish!

Fresh Zucchini & Tomato Sauce with Ricotta
Fresh Zucchini & Tomato Sauce with Ricotta

My little people finished their plates as well!

Fresh Zucchini and Tomato Sauce and Ricotta
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
 
This vegetarian, garden fresh sauce pairs with any pasta for a quick easy meal.
Ingredients
  • 2 T olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-7 medium Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 Large or 2 medium zucchini, diced small
  • 2 T each basil, parsley, chopped (plus 1 T more for finishing)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 T grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Warm the oil in a medium pan on medium high heat.
  2. Add the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened. Add the garlic and cook until golden, 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes, zucchini and herbs (not including the reserved ones for afterwards). Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Lower the heat to medium and cook until starting to break down, 6-7 minutes. Remove half of the sauce to a separate bowl.
  5. Using an immersion blender or just a masher, puree/mash the mixture a few times so it starts to become smooth. Add it back to the pan and stir in 1 T the parmesan. Spoon over cooked pasta.
  6. While cooking the sauce, mix together the ricotta, mozzarella and the remaining 1 T of parmesan and a dash of salt and pepper.
  7. Spoon the ricotta on top of this (or any tomato sauce!). Scatter the chopped basil and parsley to finish!

 

Please let me know what you thought of the Fresh Zucchini & Tomato Sauce with Ricotta! I would love to hear from you!

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Banana Chocolate-Chip Bread- Revisited

Today was my daughter’s 4th birthday! It was such a fun day since I asked her what she wanted to do and then we tried to fit it all in! We went to IHOP in our pajamas, ate lunch at the pool (picnic lunch!) and then out to dinner at her favorite restaurant. Oh we also made a cake too. I was really loving all the ideas she came up with this year.  I couldn’t help but think how different this year was than all the birthdays past since this year she really had an opinion about it. Happy birthday my sweet baby girl!

banana-chocolate-chip-bread-birthdaybanana-chololate-chip-bread-beach

However, I made this recipe below a few days ago. (It’s all gone now; it doesn’t ever last long!) But I made it into a bread loaf instead. We went over to my cousin’s house and brought this as a dessert… it did not disappoint! I made a few changes to my original banana chocolate chip muffin recipe based on what I had and what I thought sounded good. Here are my changes in the revisited version:

Banana Chocolate-Chip Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt, honey flavored
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mashed banana (usually 2 meduim size)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate morsels
  • 1 tsp vanilla

*Revisited! I used a honey-sweetened yogurt so I lessened the amount of sugar and just replaced it instead of the sour cream in the original recipe. Also, dark chocolate morsels instead of semi-sweet chips were used. (I had a friend so ingeniously suggest m&m’s as well! Gotta try that next!)

** Note about the bananas, I like the kind that are a day or two overripe. So lots of brown spots! Not like the perfect, pretty yellow ones in the background.

*** Another note! (Last one, I promise!) The butter softens so much faster (less than 20 minutes) when left out all cut up like that. I usually warm up the plate with water in the microwave and then cut it up on the plate and leave it out. So much easier than remember an hour before I want to bake with it!

best-banana-chocolate-chip-bread

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir yogurt and soda together in a small bowl and set aside. (I had my special helper do that, so helpful!)

banana-bread-special-helper

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Make sure butter is really soft and room temperature when doing this step. * See above note!

butter-sugar-banana-bread

Add egg, beating well.

add-egg-banana-bread

Beat in sour cream yogurt mixture.

beat-mixture-banana-bread

Stir in remaining ingredients. (Trust me, they are all in there, my helper just dumped them all in.) Don’t over mix it!

chocolate-chip-banana-bread

Eat a few extras.

eating-chololate-chips

Spoon into greased muffin pans loaf pan. (I used the butter wrapper with my pan, I love that thing!)

banana-bread-loaf-pan

Bake for 18-22 44-48 minutes. It will be down when golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 15 minutes or so before removing from pan. Slice when just warm to the touch.

banana-bread-clean-toothpickbanana-bread-cutie

Banana Chocolate-Chip Bread
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12 servings
 
An update from my delicious banana chocolate chip muffins! Trust me, they do not disappoint!
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup greek yogurt, honey flavored
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ cup flour
  • ¼ cup flaxseed meal
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup mashed banana (usually 2 meduim size)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate morsels
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir yogurt and soda together in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Make sure butter is soft and room temperature.
  3. Add egg, beating well.
  4. Beat in yogurt mixture.
  5. Stir in remaining ingredients. Do not overmix.
  6. Pour into greased loaf pan.
  7. Bake for 44-48 minutes. It will be done when golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool 15 minutes before removing from pan.
  9. Slice and enjoy!

 

Please let me know what you thought of the Banana Chocolate-Chip Bread! I would love to hear from you! These little people enjoyed it alright!

banana-bread-little-people

Also, it cracks me up the difference between Harper in the original post, and the older Harper! Thankfully, she still loves to help me bake!