Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Seeds

30 Oct

Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Seeds 2
We had quite the eventful day on Tuesday that brought a visit to the E.R. with our first major injury. Noah fell out of his bed and hit the right side of his head, splitting it and requiring 2 staples. It was pretty traumatic for both of us but I kept it together (for the most part) and he was incredibly brave. I’m pretty sure it took a good 3 hours for my blood pressure and heart rate to get back to normal and I still wince every time I see his poor little head.

He skipped school yesterday since his head was hurting so we decided to whip up some decadent pumpkin seeds from our jack-o-lantern carving. Because sugar makes everything better. Am I right?
Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Seeds 1
These are a fun, easy last minute Halloween treats using ingredients most of us have in our pantry already. Noah had a great time making sure the pumpkin seeds were in a single layer for roasting (OCD much? perhaps he gets it from his mama?) and mixing up the sugar and spice topping. If you have little ones helping, make sure they stand back during step 2 as some of the pumpkin seeds may pop or spatter.

And just for reference, we got a little over 2 cups of pumpkin seeds from a large and small pumpkin.
Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Seeds 3
I hope you enjoy these pumpkin seeds, or pepitas if you’re fancy like that.

Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Seeds
recipe adapted from All Recipes

2 cups pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried
1/3 cup + 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 Tbsp. coconut oil

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Place pumpkin seeds on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 45 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time. Meanwhile, mix 1/4 cup sugar, salt and pumpkin pie spice.

2. Melt coconut oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add pumpkin seeds and sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar. Stir and cook for about 45 seconds, or until dissolved (do not allow to brown or burn).

3. Pour pumpkin seeds into sugar and spice mixture, tossing to fully coat. Allow to cool and enjoy.

 

Take the Crown Cookies

26 Oct

Take the Crown Cookies 3
Has baseball taken over your house like it has mine? Joel grew up in Kansas City and therefore is a big Royals fan. The last time they were in the World Series, he was not yet 1 (and I wasn’t alive). He has always had “see the Royals play in the World Series” on his bucket list and last Monday night he got to mark it off. Unfortunately, they lost game 1 but he still had a blast and couldn’t get enough of the atmosphere.

So needless to say, my house has felt like a bundle of nerves as we have watched these games play out. We’re sitting watching the game as I write this. After last night’s loss, we needed a little pick me up so when we were at the grocery store, Noah and I picked up the Blue Velvet cake mix that he begs for every time we go to whip up something festive. After discussing ideas, Noah thought cookies would be best so we went to work.
Take the Crown Cookies 1
This time around we decided to mix in some quick oats and chocolate chips. White chocolate would have been great with the buttery vanilla (blue) cake mix but alas, we didn’t have any…what kind of food blogger am I? Nuts would be a great addition too but the biggest Royals fan in our house doesn’t like nuts so we skipped them this time. He got lucky.
Take the Crown Cookies 4
These are dense and seem like cookies that would dry out quickly, so eat them within a day or two. We shouldn’t have a problem with that…..

Let’s pull it together Royals and take that crown! Otherwise I might have to move out for a couple of days because it will be grump city around here.
Take the Crown Cookies 2
Take the Crown Cookies
recipe slightly adapted from All Homemade Cookies

1 cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
1 egg
2/3 cup quick oats
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (and/or nuts, raisins, white chocolate…)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients together, dough will be very thick.

2. Scoop onto greased or parchment lined cookie sheets 2 inches apart. Cook for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet then remove to rack to cool completely.

 

Steak and Eggs with Guacamole {aka my new fav dinner}

20 Oct

Steak, Eggs and Guacamole 8
I’ve been MIA this week because my baby girl turned 1 on Tuesday! I know it’s clique but it’s unbelievable how fast this past year has gone by. We celebrated with family and friends on Saturday with a circus themed party. We ate lots of circus food (kettle corn, soft pretzels, funnel cakes and more), took funny pictures in the DIY photo booth and watched sweet Hannah absolutely demolish her cake. It was all over her, the floor, walls and door behind her. When she was done, she threw it on the floor. Man that girly has a lot of personality!
Hannah's Party
Hannah's Party
Buffet
With all the cooking and commotion this weekend, I wanted to keep dinner simple last night so I turned to one of our new favorite meals. I’ve had this ridiculously easy and delicious recipe in my back pocket for months and am just now sharing it. Lame. Especially since it involves grilling which won’t be happening for too long around here. But it would still be great cooked in a skillet or under the broiler.
Steak, Eggs and Guacamole 6
My aunt texted me a picture of a dinner she made a few months ago. Yep, we roll like that. Anyway, it was a grilled steak topped with an egg and chopped avocado. I was out shopping for some new clothes but made sure to stop by the grocery store on the way home so that I could whip this up for dinner the next night. That’s how excited I was about it.
Steak, Eggs and Guacamole 5
Joel and I aren’t huge fans of plain ‘ole avocado so I mixed it up a bit and whipped up some quick guacamole to top it with instead. And I have to tell you, the hot sauce makes all the difference. Steak and eggs are a no brainer together but then add the creamy, citrusy guacamole and some zip from the hot sauce and you have a match made in heaven.
Steak, Eggs and Guacamole 7
Steak and Eggs with Guacamole

2 ribeye steaks
2 egg
1/2 recipe guacamole
hot sauce, optional

1. Preheat grill to medium high heat. When grill is ready, place steaks on grill and season with salt and pepper. Remove steaks from grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

2. While steaks are resting, preheat a skillet over medium heat and cook eggs to your liking (I made ours with the yolks just a bit runny).

3. Slice steak and place on a plate. Top with egg and a dollop of guacamole. Top with a few shakes of hot sauce if you would like.

 

Crispy Baked Pork Chops {Clean Eating}

11 Oct

Crispy Baked Pork Chops 1
So, I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in a few months due to a certain little girl. A little girl that is going to be one next week! She should totally be sleeping all night, am I right? Well, she did last night and I have to tell you, I haven’t felt this good in a long time. I’m actually a pleasant person today. Have I told you me without sleep is not a pretty picture? For reals.
Crispy Baked Pork Chops 3
Getting enough sleep means I still have energy by the end of the day to cook a decent meal. And this meal totally screams fall to me. Hearty, pork chops covered in homemade whole grain breadcrumbs with a huge helping of broccoli mashed potatoes on the side.
Crispy Baked Pork Chops 4
And did I mention this deliciously filling meal is healthy and clean? You’re welcome.
Crispy Baked Pork Chops 5
Crispy Baked Pork Chops
recipe adapted from Sugar and Spice by Celeste

4 boneless center-cut pork chops, 6 to 8 ounces each, 3/4 to 1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
4 slices whole grain bread bread, torn into 1 inch pieces
3 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tbsp)
2 tbsp. olive oil
Ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, place bread into a food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Pour onto a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and garlic. Mix until well combined. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. Let cool to room temperature. Bump oven temperature up to 425 degrees F.
2. Once crumbs are cool, mix in parmesan cheese, thyme and parsley. Next, set up an assembly line of ingredients. Place flour in a pie plate, mix eggs and mustard in another pie plate then breadcrumbs in another. Roll pork chops in flour, eggs then breadcrumbs and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 17-25 minutes or until cooked through (mine took 20 minutes).

Broccoli Mashed Potatoes

9 Oct

Broccoli Mashed Potatoes
You know what’s weird? Having to tell your child that he’s eating mashed broccoli because if he knew there was potatoes involved he would have nothing to do with them. Yep, a four year old that doesn’t eat potatoes…not even fries. Sometimes I wonder if he’s really my child.
Broccoli Mashed Potatoes
These broccoli mashed potatoes are light yet flavorful. The sour cream adds a nice tang and the onions bring flavor to a dish that would otherwise be bland. I added a bit of parmesan to help sell these to the oldest member of the family, yes the almost 30 year old.
Broccoli Mashed Potatoes

I served these alongside some crispy baked pork chops (I’ll share that recipe later this week) for the perfect, healthy fall meal.

Broccoli Mashed Potatoes
recipe adapted from Everyday Light Meals

1 1/2 lbs. small red potatoes, skin on and cubed
2 1/2 cups fresh broccoli
1/2 onion, shredded
2 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup parmesan, freshly grated
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat then cover and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, chop broccoli florets and some stem into small pieces. After 10 minutes, add broccoli to potatoes and cook another 10 minutes.

2. In a saute pan, melt butter and cook onion until soft and slightly browned. Drain potatoes and broccoli then put back in the pan. Add onions, sour cream, parmesan, salt and pepper and mash together until smooth.

Healthy-ish Apple Doughnut Holes

4 Oct

Healthy-ish Apple Doughnut Holes 8
Let’s talk about carbs. Delicious, tasty, incredible carbohydrates. This is my open letter to carbs: I can’t quit you. I recently had a conversation on Facebook with my aunt’s friend who is doing a very low carb diet and was craving apple pie. She was wishing that a yummy no-carb apple pie existed and the conversation pretty much ended with me saying “there’s no such thing, #carbsforlife.”
Healthy-ish Apple Doughnut Holes 4
With all that being said, I do limit my carbs and the vast majority of the time I stick to the good for me ones. After our conversation I had apples on the mind and remembered a recipe I needed to share with you all that just might satisfy the apple craving a bit.
Healthy-ish Apple Doughnut Holes 7
We went to the annual apple festival in a nearby town a couple weekends ago and had a great time picking apples, enjoying a hay rack ride and inhaling hot apple doughnuts fresh from the oven. They were delicious and magical but not something we could indulge in every day. So when Noah requested apple doughnuts later that week, I told him yes, but on my terms.
Healthy-ish Apple Doughnut Holes 3
These apple doughnuts, cooked in a cake pop gadget for instant gratification, are made with very little sugar, just a bit of butter and are half whole wheat. I skipped the whole dip in butter and roll in cinnamon sugar to keep them on the healthy side but you could go ahead and do it if you wish. Just don’t tell me because I’ll be jealous. And don’t worry if you don’t have a cake pop cooker thingy, I’ve provided instructions on baking them in the oven as well. These are slightly sweet with a hint of apple. And you don’t have to feel so bad when you devour 3 or 4.

So here’s to a healthier way to get your carb on.
Healthy-ish Apple Doughnut Holes 5
Apple Doughnut Holes
recipe adapted from Chew Out Loud

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¾ cup whole milk
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp. regular butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 small (or 1 large) apples; peeled, grated, and squeezed dry

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees or preheat cake pop maker. In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a small bowl, mix milk, eggs, butter, vanilla and apples together. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and fold until just mixed.

2. Either grease mini muffin tin or cake pop maker with nonstick spray. Fill 2/3 full and bake in oven for 7-8 minutes or 2-4 minutes in cake pop maker.

*For butter and cinnamon sugar coating instructions follow link above to the original recipe.

Cheeseburger Quesadillas

30 Sep

Cheeseburger Quesadillas 1
Besides cooking and photography, one of my big hobbies is crafting. I guess I have a love for creating and capturing. Recently I have been working on a quilt that I have grown to love; every time I pick it up to work on it, I adore it even more. I know quilting is an uncommon hobby for a 20-something but I am kind of addicted and I’m not afraid to say it. Call me granny if you wish but I’m creating awesomeness around here. The concept of this quilt started at Christmas when Joel’s mom was given 12 quilt squares made by her grandma and great grandma. She wasn’t planning on doing anything with them so she offered them to me to create something with them. After several months of brainstorming, I came up with a concept and created 18 of my own quilt blocks to go along with the vintage ones. Each and every square has a different fabric yet they look like they were made for each other. Along the border are names, places, dates and special family jokes quilted to evoke memories each time it’s used. It’s a quilt decades in the making and something I am so proud to have had a part of creating.
heritage quilt
Just like this quilt, I love dreaming up and creating in my kitchen. The quilt nourishes my soul and these cheeseburger quesadillas nourish our bellies. They come together in less than 30 minutes and will definitely be a crowd pleaser. Even my impossible 4 year old ate these without complaint and he almost never eats meat. I’m telling you, tortillas are magic makers in getting your kids to eat. The fact that they taste like a rich, meaty cheeseburger helps too.
Cheeseburger Quesadillas 3
Cheeseburger Quesadillas

8-12 whole wheat tortillas
1 lb. lean ground beef
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. mustard
1 Tbsp. worchestershire
S&P
1-1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar (1/4 cup per quesadilla)

1. In a skillet over medium heat, cook ground beef until cooked through. Drain grease then stir in ketchup, mustard and worchestershire.

2. Meanwhile, preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Lay a tortilla in the skillet then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese, desired amount of ground beef (we divided this to make 6 quesadillas but if you want yours a bit meatier, add 1/4 of the ground beef mixture), bacon and another 2 tablespoons of cheese then top with another tortilla. Cook until brown and crisp then flip and cook other side until golden. Remove from skillet and cut with a pizza wheel. Serve with pickles on the side.
Cheeseburger Quesadillas 4

Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Treats

24 Sep

2Salted Caramel Rice Krispies 2
When I think of fall, pumpkin and apples always come to mind. But another flavor profile that screams fall to me is caramel. Whether it’s caramel cornrolls, cake, cider or apple pie, it’s always fall when I consider them.  It’s rich, sweet and creamy and salt always makes it better.Salted Caramel Rice Krispies 1
Salted Caramel Rice Krispies 1
We had some friends over recently for a Husker game and I wanted to try a recipe from one of my new cookbooks and when I flipped to these salted caramel rice krispie treats in Sally’s Baking Addiction I knew the search was over. Everybody loves a thick, chewy rice krispie but these are elevated to a whole new level with a homemade salted caramel and a finishing sprinkle of flaked sea salt. Are you drooling yet?
Salted Caramel Rice Krispies 4
Not only are they easy but they are the perfect treat to enjoy on a crisp, autumn night while watching the game.
Salted Caramel Rice Krispies 7
Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Treats
recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction

For the caramel:
1 cup granulated sugar
6 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp.salt

For the rice krispies:
4 Tbsp. butter
1 (10 oz.) bag marshmallows (regular or mini)
4 1/2 cups rice krispies
1/2 cup salted caramel from above
sea salt, to sprinkle

1. For the salted caramel: Heat the granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. It will start to form clumps and melt into a thick brown liquid; be careful not to burn it. Once the sugar has melted completely, add the butter. The mixture will bubble rapidly. Stir for 2-3 minutes until the butter is completely melted then stir in the heavy cream and allow to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the salt. Pour into a heatproof bowl and allow to cool and thicken before using.

2. Lightly spray a 9×9 pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in the marshmallows until they are completely melted and incorporated into the butter. Remove from heat and stir in the cereal. Gently fold in half the salted caramel.

4. Dump cereal mixture into the prepared pan and gently spread it out. Drizzle with the remaining caramel sauce then sprinkle to your liking with the sea salt. Allow to cool for at least 1 hour before cutting.
Salted Caramel Rice Krispies 3

Whole Wheat Tortillas {Clean Eating}

19 Sep

Whole Wheat Tortillas 3
Did you know putting something in a tortilla will almost always get a 4 year old to eat it? We’ve been having some major battles getting Noah to eat and this trick seems to work. It’s not that he’s picky (the only food group he won’t eat much of is meat) but he just won’t sit and focus for more than 2.4 seconds. On school mornings I literally have to chase him around with his yogurt, spooning it in his mouth anytime he opens it to talk, which if you’ve met Noah you know is a lot at least. It may be the only time I like the fact that he doesn’t ever stop talking.
Whole Wheat Tortillas 2
Although I prefer corn tortillas most of the time, sometimes a flour tortilla just hits the spot. Since we are eating clean most of the time, I decided to give whole wheat tortillas a whirl. And they turned out wonderfully. The dough was a bit more difficult to deal with than the white flour tortillas but the extra work was definitely worth it. They are hearty, flavorful and they brown up like a dream. We used them for spicy lemon chicken wraps and a new recipe I will be sharing with you all soon that not only got Noah to eat, but also eat some meat too. I’m telling you, they work miracles.
Whole Wheat Tortillas 1
Whole Wheat Tortillas
recipe from 100 Days of Real Food

2½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water (heat in the microwave for 1 min)

1. Place the flour, olive oil and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix, using the dough hook, for 3-5 minutes, it will be crumbly.

2. While the mixer is running on low, slowly drizzle in the water (you may not need it all) until the dough forms a smooth ball, about 3 minutes.

3. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll into balls. Flatten slightly, place on a baking sheet and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow dough to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes to an hour.

4. Heat a dry skillet over medium high heat. Meanwhile, using a tortilla press lined with plastic wrap, flatten dough. Cook each tortilla in the dry pan, about 30 seconds per side until they bubble and brown. Flip and cook the second side. Serve warm.

 

Meatball Pizza

4 Sep

Meatball Pizza 1
So remember when I made spaghetti and meatballs for you last week? A big ‘ole delicious batch. But have I ever told you how much I dislike leftovers? They are ok for a day but after that no bueno. I just hate eating the same thing over and over. And Joel now has lunch provided for him at work so that means there are even more leftovers for me to eat. The smart thing here would have been to freeze half the batch for another time but alas, that didn’t happen so I got creative instead.
Meatball Pizza 4
I always have pizza dough in my freezer for quick weeknight meals. Lately I have been creating lots of delicious and non-traditional pizza’s so why not make one with leftovers for the ultimate quick and easy meal?
Meatball Pizza 3
And that’s exactly what I did after 2 days of spaghetti and meatballs for lunch and dinner. I’m pretty sure this was the first time I was thankful for leftovers because it turned out so tasty. I’m pretty sure I’ll be making extra meatballs from now on just so I can make this pizza.

Meatball Pizza

2 disks whole wheat pizza dough
Leftover meatballs and sauce
2-4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Preheat pizza stone for 30 minutes.

2. Roll pizza dough disks together into a 12-inch round then place on preheated pizza stone. Slather desired amount of pizza sauce over crust and top with cheeses. Thinly slice 4-5 meatballs and layer on top of cheese.

3. Bake pizza for 10-12 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

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