It’s Shark Week Peeps!

11 Aug

I professed my love for Shark Week last year with some yummy shark/ocean themed treats and I totally planned on doing it again this year. But then I didn’t. Sorry. I fell off the wagon a bit with my healthy eating with birthdays and vacations so I’m back at it and therefore, haven’t been baking much. But, Joel’s co-workers have slipped hints that they would really enjoy some shark cupcakes again. I hope to make it happen but it’s a busy week with Noah’s first day of preschool and a trip to Fargo for a wedding so we shall see.
Shark Cupcakes 2
Whether or not they get whipped up, I still wanted to remind all you lovely followers of these fun treats in case you are having a Shark Week shindig. I hope that you impress your friends and family with these delicious, gruesome goodies.

Shark Cupcakes – Moist, white almond-y cupcakes bursting with strawberry preserves and topped with a simple ocean blue cream cheese frosting.
Shark Cupcakes 5
Beaches – a vanilla version of dirt and worms, Beaches combines vanilla pudding, vanilla wafers and cool whip for the perfect summer dessert. Top with gummy sharks to make it especially festive!
Beaches 3
Blood in the Water – basically just a creepy name for a Lava Flow. This frozen tropical drink combines strawberries, pineapple and coconut for the perfect refresher while watching some gory shark attacks.
Lava Flow 1

Chicken Roll-Ups {Lightened Up and Clean}

7 Aug

Chicken Roll-Ups {Lightened Up} 5
Noah is starting preschool in less than a week. Seriously people, how did this happen? It seems like just yesterday he was my sweet little baby and now he’s four and uses words like ridiculous and spectacular. I’ve been looking forward to this all summer but now that it’s upon us I’m kind of freaking out. It will be nice to have some time to devote purely to Hannah and to just have one crazy child to handle but I’m going to miss his hilarious antics. Like the fact that he now says por favor and gracias instead of please and thank you. Or his one man band routine (he was playing four instruments at once, that’s talent). Or the fact that as I type this he should be napping but instead he’s singing “Timber” at the top of his lungs. It’s hard to be mad at the kid. But seriously, go to sleep kid or you will be a pill later….
Chicken Roll-Ups {Lightened Up} 4
So with the school year upon us, I’ve been on the hunt for healthy and easy meals to throw together on busy nights. I received a ton of new cookbooks and magazines for my birthday so I went right to them to solve my problem. This recipe originally called for ricotta and roasted red peppers as the filling but I decided to alter it a bit to make a chicken cordon bleu-esque dinner that was still clean and healthy.
Chicken Roll-Ups {Lightened Up} 3
This chicken dish looks fancy and complex but really is simple and quick to get on the table. And as you all know Joel hasn’t exactly been thrilled with my recent clean eating adventures but he really loved this meal. I made it last week and he has already mentioned a few times that he would love to have it on the menu again soon.

To keep it light but filling, I served this alongside some roasted cauliflower and grilled zucchini.
Chicken Roll-Ups {Lightened Up} 1
Chicken Roll-Ups
recipe adapted from Clean Eating Magazine

4 4-ounce chicken breasts,each cut crosswise into 2 thin pieces
1/2 cup ricotta
1 tsp. dried basil
8 thinly sliced low sodium and nitrate free ham
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. white whole-wheat flour
2 Tbsp. olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line up chicken on a cutting board and lay a slice of ham on each. Combine the ricotta and basil then spread evenly over the ham. Roll up and secure each piece with a toothpick. Season with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish and dredge chicken through it, shaking off excess.

2.Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Add chicken and cook for about 3 minutes per side (until browned). Transfer chicken to a baking sheet and bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Carefully remove toothpicks and slice into rounds.

Coconut Almond Granola Bars {No Bake}

5 Aug

Coconut Almond Granola Bars 5
I’ve been on a mission to transition our home to all homemade snacks, condiments, meals and such. But I seriously underestimated the time and effort it would take. The snacks are what really kill us. I always have fresh fruit and veggies on hand but sometimes the craving strikes for something different. Noah loves granola bars but looking at the ingredient list makes me shudder and the healthy, clean versions are crazy expensive and usually not very tasty. So what is a food blogger to do? Make my own of course! I have had several recipes pinned for quite awhile so this morning while Hannah napped, Noah and I explored our options and chose these coconut almond granola bars.
Coconut Almond Granola Bars 4
I decided to switch up some of the ingredients and add some others to make these to our taste. Almonds are a huge go-to snack for Noah and I so I knew these would be a big hit for us.
Coconut Almond Granola Bars 4
I wrap these in parchment and store in an airtight container to have a quick, on the go snack anytime. So much better than the prepackaged options not just in health, but taste too!
Coconut Almond Granola Bars 3
Coconut Almond Granola Bars {No Bake}
recipe adapted from Super Healthy Kids

1 1/2 cups roughly chopped almonds
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
2 Tbsp. wheat germ
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
3 Tbsp. peanut butter (or almond butter)

1. In a medium bowl, combine almonds, crispy rice cereal, coconut and wheat germ. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, combine honey, maple syrup and peanut butter in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Let boil, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Pour syrup into bowl of dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

3. Pour mixture into an 8×8 pan that is either lined with parchment or coated in non-stick spray. Press evenly and allow to cool. Slice and store in an airtight container. These stayed pretty soft for us so be careful when eating them.

Rocky Road Ice Cream

30 Jul

Rocky Road Ice Cream 2
If you all have been following me for awhile, you know that Joel and I are not big chocolate lovers. It has it’s place in cookies and such but for me, not as the main star. I’ve never been a fan of chocolate cake (except for my sister-in-laws) or chocolate ice cream but somehow Noah got the chocoholic gene. So some kind of chocolate ice cream had to be present at his party and I decided to go with Rocky Road since he also has a love affair with marshmallows and almonds.
Rocky Road Ice Cream 3
This chocolate ice cream is incredibly rich and decadent (thank you dutch process cocoa) so just a scoop is satisfying. Which is good considering the ingredient list. The marshmallows stay soft and the almonds add a delicious, salty crunch.
Rocky Road Ice Cream 5
Although this wouldn’t be the first ice cream I would reach for, it’s pretty tasty even for a non-chocolate lover. And I have to say too, my brother doesn’t care for chocolate all that much either and he said it was his favorite of all my homemade ice ventures. That’s saying a lot when you consider this, this, this, this and this.
Rocky Road Ice Cream 1
Rocky Road Ice Cream
recipe from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book

1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup roasted, salted almonds, roughly chopped

1. In a food processor, combine sugar, eggs and cocoa and blend until smooth.

2. Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle the hot milk into the chocolate mixture through the feed tube. Process until well blended. Pour the entire mixture into the pan and cook over low heat. Whisk constantly until the custard thickens slightly. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large, clean bowl. Cool slightly then stir in the cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled.

3. Stir in the custard then freeze according to manufacturers directions. During the last 5 minutes of freezing, dump in the marshmallows and almonds. Transfer to a freezer safe container.

Cake Batter Ice Cream

24 Jul

Cake Batter Ice Cream 5
You know what’s the worst? Getting back into a routine after vacation. For reals. I don’t want to cook, clean, go to the grocery store or work out. I want to go to the beach, then the pool, then lunch then back to the beach then dinner (and dessert) then shop. Can that be real life? No? Are you sure? Well, I suppose it’s time.
Cake Batter Ice Cream 1
Usually by the end of a vacation I am totally ready to go home but this time I wasn’t and could have totally stayed a few more days. Our vacations are typically go go go as we want to see and do everything possible at our destination. This means we don’t have a lot of time to relax. This time around we decided to keep it low key since it’s hard to run around with the kids and I’m so glad we did. We had lots of fun playing and making memories. If you all are interested, I will share photos and some stories of our vacation sometime soon.
Cake Batter Ice Cream 3
Like I told you here, I made several different ice creams for Noah’s 4th birthday party and this was one of them. It is creamy, rich and tastes like vanilla pudding. Although the roasted strawberry ice cream was the clear favorite among most of the party guests, this was my personal favorite. And it tastes so much better than the store-bought or ice cream shop versions.
Cake Batter Ice Cream 2
The varieties are endless with this recipe and I think I will be trying it with red velvet cake mix with mini chocolate chips next time. Doesn’t that sound divine?

Cake Batter Ice Cream
recipe from Annie Eats

2 cups heavy cream, divided
½ cup yellow cake mix
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ cups whole milk
1/8 cup sprinkles, optional

1. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup heavy cream, cake mix, sugar and salt. Whisk until combined and heat until warmed through. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks until pale and thickened. In a large bowl, combine the last cup of cream, vanilla and milk. Place a fine mesh sieve over the bowl and set aside.

2. Once the cream on the stovetop has heated through, slowly drizzle into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook until thickened. Pour the mixture through the fine sieve into the milk and cream. Combine thoroughly then refrigerate until completely cooled. Freeze according to manufacturers directions. Dump in the sprinkles during the last minute of churning.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana Waffles {Clean Recipe}

14 Jul

Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana Waffles 4
We are leaving for the Dominican Republic tomorrow at the crack of dawn. Literally. Our plan starts boarding at 5:05 which means we have to leave the house by 3:45, with a toddler and a baby. Not sure we were thinking clearly when we booked the flight. I’m pretty sure we are going to get the stink eye from our fellow passengers. Especially since said baby is wild, crazy and her screeching may be mistaken for a pterodactyl on board (totally didn’t know pterodactyl started with a p). Ooooh well. We’re going to a tropical paradise and nothing is going to bring me down!

So I was a totally unprepared and unfit blogger and didn’t prepare posts ahead of time so I’m going to be MIA for the next week or so. I promise I planned on it but with Noah’s party last week it totally slipped my mind and just didn’t happen.  And I don’t even feel bad about it because when Noah woke up on the day of his party he told us “this is going to be the best day of my life” and he confirmed it by the end of the night. I’ll have more ice cream recipes to share from his party as well as some pictures of the fun cupcakes I made.
Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana Waffles 3
Anyway, onto the waffles. And just FYI before you start, if you decide to double this recipe like I did the first time you should definitely double all the ingredients…like the cocoa powder. Kind of important. Sometimes I worry about myself.

These whole wheat waffles are rich and chocolate-y (as long as you put in enough that is) and just slightly sweet. Using whole wheat pastry flour ensures that they aren’t dense and dry. And with just a few slight changes to the original recipe they are easily converted to a delicious clean breakfast. They are really yummy smothered in fresh strawberries and drizzled with pure maple syrup. Yum!
Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana Waffles 2
Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana Waffles
recipe adapted from Alida’s Kitchen

1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. honey
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 overripe bananas, mashed (about 3/4 cup)
2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pure maple syrup for serving

1. In a small bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk together the honey, buttermilk, bananas, grapessed oil, eggs and vanilla.

2. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients being sure not to overmix (which will lead to tough, dense waffles). Let batter sit for 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, preheat waffle iron. Cook waffles according to your waffle makers directions.

 

 

Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream

9 Jul

Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream 2
Noah is going to be four next week. FOUR! He’s having a putt putt golf birthday party this weekend and requested strawberry cupcakes with strawberry frosting. Usually I go all out with the food for his party but I decided to keep it simple this year and order pizza since we are leaving for vacation early Tuesday morning. Well, I couldn’t just leave well enough alone so I decided to make a few different ice creams to go with his homemade cupcakes.
Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream 1
Since he seemed to be on a strawberry kick I figured strawberry ice cream was a requirement. With a little searching I found this recipe for roasted strawberry ice cream. I’ve never heard of roasting strawberries and was very intrigued and just had to give it a try. The strawberries are roasted with sugar, vanilla and wine then half of them are pureed and mixed into the custard mixture.
Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream 3
It’s sweet, creamy and bursting with strawberry goodness. I love that the ice cream has the strawberry puree and chunks throughout for a double punch.

Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream
recipe adapted from Novice Housewife

For the roasted strawberries:
1 lb. fresh strawberries, quartered
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ tbsp white wine
For the ice cream:
½ cup half and half
¼ to ½ cup granulated sugar (depends on how sweet you want your ice cream and how sweet your strawberries are; I used 1/4 + 1/8 cup)
3 egg yolks
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a glass pan combine strawberries, sugar, vanilla and wine. Roast for 30-40 minutes. Puree half the mixture and allow to cool.
2. Meanwhile, warm half and half to almost a simmer. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar and corn syrup until pale yellow and thickened. Slowly pour warmed half and half into egg yolk mixture, whisk the entire time. Pour mixture back into the pan and cook over medium-low heat until thickened. Don’t let it boil or the eggs will scramble.
3. Pour custard through a fine mesh sieve, cover and place in refrigerator to cool. Mix blended strawberries, strawberry chunks and heavy cream into the custard mixture. Freeze according to your ice cream directions.

Copycat Olive Garden Dressing

5 Jul

Olive Garden Dressing 3
Have any of you stripped and refinished furniture before? Any tips or tricks? It’s our big project this weekend and it seems like a bit of work but I’m super pumped about it.

We are tackling our dining room table and buffet which are both older than me. My parents bought it right before I was born and we got it as a hand me down after we were married and they bought a new table. The chairs were replaced by some fun Ikea chairs a few years ago when they started to fall apart but the table and buffet are still going strong. We thought about buying new but I kind of love the history behind them so we’re going with the freshen up approach. The table will be a creamy white and this green is going on the buffet. The green is definitely bolder in person and will be a fun pop of color. So excited.
Olive Garden Dressing 4
You know what else excites me? Olive Garden salad. And when I say salad, I mean the dressing it is swimming in. I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite thing about visiting the restaurant. And I have good news for you, this tastes just like it.
Olive Garden Dressing 1
I love it so much that I can think up just about any reason to make this. Oh, you stubbed your toe? Let me make Olive Garden salad, it will make you feel better. You spent all day inhaling fumes from the paint stripper and dust from the sander? Here, I have salad. You see where I’m going here?
Olive Garden Dressing 2
Copycat Olive Garden Dressing
recipe from Dear Beautiful You

1/3 cup white vinegar
4  1/2 Tbsp. water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 packet Good Seasons Italian salad dressing packet
1 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Place in airtight jar and refrigerate. Dressing tastes best if made the night before.

Lemon Cheesecake Pie {Almost No-Bake}

2 Jul

Lemon Cheesecake Pie 2
Ok, so I have to apologize for being so MIA lately around here. I don’t really have a big excuse for it, just a lot of little things. Joel was in NYC last week, Hannah is teething and will only allow me to hold her (every waking minute) and Noah is in the nonstop questions stage. So I’m pretty sure my brain has melted which really makes it impossible to blog. Dramatic much? Seriously though, it’s just been a bit hectic but I promise I’ll be better!
Lemon Cheesecake Pie 4
I made this cheesecake pie about a month ago when some friends were visiting from Seattle. I had been craving cheesecake but wanted to make it a bit summery and bright. I also didn’t want to crank on the oven since it was incredibly hot and humid. And out of these things I came up with the almost no-bake lemon cheesecake pie.

The crust is a combination of graham cracker crumbs, almonds and coconut for a bit of a tropical feel. It’s lightly baked, cooled then topped with a no-bake cheesecake layer. And the grand finale is a thin layer of homemade lemon curd spread on top. It’s a nice combination of rich, creamy, light and zippy.
Lemon Cheesecake Pie 1
This pie would be a great end to your 4th of July celebration.

Lemon Cheesecake Pie

Crust:
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup sweetened coconut
1 stick butter, melted

Cheesecake Layer:
recipe from Martha Stewart

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup lemon curd

1. For the crust: pulse the almonds in a food processor until you get coarse crumbs. Add coconut, graham cracker crumbs and butter and pulse until it just comes together. Press into a 9-inch springform pan and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.

2. Meanwhile, for the cheesecake layer: beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the condensed milk, 1/4 cup at a time. Beat in lemon juice and vanilla. Pour into cooled pie crust and cover with plastic wrap. Let chill in refrigerator for 3 hours.

3. After cheesecake has chilled, gently spread the lemon curd on top. Recover with plastic wrap and refrigerator until ready to serve.
Lemon Cheesecake Pie 3

Veggie Lo Mein

20 Jun

Veggie Lo Mein 4
When Joel is out of town or has to work late, I almost always make some kind of version of this. Whether it’s all veggies or chicken and broccoli, it’s always my go to meal. He’s not a big veggie guy if you guys haven’t figured that out by now.
Veggie Lo Mein 5
This is quick and easy to make while making sure your 3 year old isn’t throwing a baseball in the house and the baby isn’t crawling up the stairs or chewing on cords. Not that I know from experience or anything.
Veggie Lo Mein 3
Since I’ve always preferred pasta over rice, lo mein is far superior to fried rice in my book. And this is so filling it’s a meal in itself. Perfect for those crazy, busy summer days!
Veggie Lo Mein 1
Veggie Lo Mein
recipe adapted from Chinese Food DIY

6 ounces vermicelli, uncooked
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3-5 cups chopped bok choy (I couldn’t find any so I used cabbage mix)
1 cup low sodium fat free chicken broth
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup coarsely shredded carrot
1/4 cup chopped green onion
Additional low sodium soy sauce

1. Cook pasta 1 minute less than package directions.

2. Meanwhile, heat a wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat then coat with cooking spray. Add sesame oil, garlic and bok choy and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, soy sauce and crushed red pepper and stir fry 1 more minute. Add carrot and stir fry another minute.

3. Stir in pasta and cook for a minute until thoroughly combined and heated through. Add more soy sauce if desired.
Veggie Lo Mein 2

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