Photo Friday

Kitchen Craziness
I posted this photo on my social media earlier this week. This is literally the size of my kitchen. With how much I cook, I don’t know what I was thinking when I agreed to this house. Well, the thought was to eventually blow out the wall and take over the formal dining room then simply have the eat in kitchen for meals. We’re not fancy so no need for a big fancy dining room just a place for us to sit down together every night. I wish I was here to tell you that was happening, hah. It’s not. Just showing you what I’m working with.

And isn’t the middle of the kitchen the perfect place to color at 5:15 in the evening? Not the kids table in the eat-in kitchen literally 5 feet away. But I shouldn’t complain because they were actually being nice to each other. And they just want to be with me. But seriously, if I got one more stink eye for stepping on the coloring book. Really children, because I’m the one in your way? Those two are something else but it’s my crazy train and I love it.


Amish Sugar Cookies

I have no idea why these cookies are called Amish but I do know they are the best cookies on the planet. I know that’s a huge claim but they totally deserve it. I know they don’t look like much but trust me.
Amish Sugar Cookies 6
I’ve said many times that I’m much more of a savory than sweet person. I can eat a cookie and be good but chips, don’t leave me alone with the bag. These cookies are a totally different story. Somehow 4 simply disappear and all I’m left with is a few crumbs and sprinkles in my lap wondering what just happened. They just melt in your mouth.
Amish Sugar Cookies 5

Another good/bad thing, depending on your self control, is that this recipe makes a large batch. That means enough for to share and to gorge yourself. But seriously, these are great to feed a big crowd. Joel’s company has grown a ton since he started working there 2 1/2 years ago and I really like to surprise them with treats every once and awhile but it’s gotten hard to make something that can feed a group of them that’s still relatively easy for me. They routinely request these and these and guys, I like you and all but those are so not happening on the regular. These cookies are perfect for the occasion.

Amish Sugar Cookies 4
And who doesn’t love sugar cookies? So they will be a definite crowd pleaser. Also, bake sales. Do those still happen? If so, these are the cookies to make. I would buy them all. Then eat them all. And I wouldn’t regret it one bit.
Amish Sugar Cookies 3

Amish Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter., room temperature
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
½ tsp. salt
4½ cups flour
sprinkles to garnish, optional

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a mixer, cream together the butter, oil and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla.

3. Add in baking soda, cream of tarter and salt and mix until just combined. Mix in flour in increments and mix again until just combined.

4. Scoop cookies onto prepared baking sheets, top with sprinkles if desired and bake for 10-12 minutes until just barely golden on the edges (be careful not to overbake). Let cool for 3 minutes on baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

*recipe from Cookies and Cups


Sweet Corn, Bacon and Cheddar Risotto

I went and took a fancy Italian dish and trashed it up. Or Americanized it. Whichever phrase you prefer. But seriously though, who doesn’t love bacon, cheddar and corn? And creamy rice. Duh.
Sweet Corn, Bacon and Cheddar Risotto 5

I made this Saturday night for an impromptu date night at home after we got the kids to bed. We love to cook up a big, non-kid friendly dinner together at home every once and awhile since it’s so hard to get out on our own. We usually turn on some music, grill steaks the kids wouldn’t eat and make something fancy to go with it. Joel requested risotto this time so I looked around the fridge and pantry to see what we had and this is what I came up with.

Sweet Corn, Bacon and Cheddar Risotto 3

This hits on all those delicious taste buds and leaves you full and happy. The corn is sweet, the cheddar is sharp, the bacon is salty and smoky. Pretty much perfection in a pan. And it’s a fun and different way to use up that sweet corn before it’s gone for the season.
Sweet Corn, Bacon and Cheddar Risotto 1

This is obviously amazing with fresh corn cut from the cob, but you can also substitute with frozen corn (thawed first) when fresh isn’t available.

Sweet Corn, Bacon and Cheddar Risotto 4
If you want to serve it to the kids and are worried about the wine, just sub in additional chicken broth. This made a huge batch so the kids had it leftover for lunch with us the next day and they totally loved it too. “Like a fancy mac-n-cheese” said Noah.
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Because as you all should know by now, carbs and cheese are our favorites around here.

Sweet Corn, Bacon and Cheddar Risotto

2 cups water
32 oz. low sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, finely minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sweet corn, cut from cob or thawed from frozen
6 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1. Combine water and broth in a saucepan and warm over medium-low heat.

2. Melt butter in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add onion and saute for about 3 minutes, or until softened and translucent. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, uncovered, stirring constantly. Stir in wine and cook 30 seconds or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the risotto.

3. Add broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total) until broth is gone or rice is cooked through. About 10 minutes in, stir in the corn. Once the rice is done, remove from heat and stir in cheddar.

Photo Friday

Noah’s first day of Kindergarten was on Wednesday. All of Tuesday I pretty much felt like I was going to vomit. Wednesday morning came and as he was hanging up his backpack in his classroom he told me, “this is the most exciting day ever.”
Noah 1

Although his excitement helped ease the sting, I still couldn’t keep it together. I knew he would be awesome but I just couldn’t get past the fact that a huge stage in his childhood is over. Gah, it still makes me teary. He’s not my little boy anymore and I won’t have the same time I had with him before. I heard this song while working out the day before school started and it totally resonated with how I was feeling and I did my best to not cry as I figured I’d get some pretty weird looks. untitled-1
“I close both of my eyes and say my thank yous to each and every moment….I go where I know the love is and let it fill me up inside gathering new strength from sorrow.”
Noah 3

“I pause, I take a breath, and bow and I let that chapter end.” Damn you Jason Mraz.

But I’m trying to focus on the positives, all he’s going to learn, the friendships he will make, his growing independence and the time I will have with Hannah. It was so quiet that first morning. Creepily so. But then we picked him up, got home and it was the usual utter chaos and I wondered why I hadn’t cherished that quiet time a little more.

We have quite a journey ahead and we’re all excited to see where it takes us!

Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

These taco stuffed sweet potatoes are an easy, healthy and filling dinner that will make the whole family happy.
Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes 2I love baked potatoes. You know, the ones stuffed with butter, cheese, bacon and sour cream. They are probably one of my favorite things in life. Potatoes stuffed with BBQ pulled pork, buffalo chicken and chili are equally delicious. Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes 3
But these options aren’t the best when you are trying to make healthy choices so I went on a mission to create a healthy baked potato that was still satisfying.
Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes 5First, I opted for a sweet potato over a traditional russet to up the nutrition factor. Then I filled them with lean ground turkey spiced with my favorite taco seasoning and black beans for some protein that makes them super filling. Then you can get creative as you want, topping them with your favorite taco accompaniments. Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes 4
What makes them even better is that everything can be made ahead of time and just reheated when you are ready to eat. So make double and you’ll have lunch all week.

Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

4 large sweet potatoes, baked
1 lb. ground turkey
2 Tbsp. taco seasoning mix
1 (15 oz.) black beans
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
Taco toppings: cheese, salsa, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, avocado…

1. While the potatoes are baking, cook the ground turkey. When it is close to being done, sprinkle on the taco seasoning and stir until it’s evenly distributed. Continue to cook until turkey is no longer pink.

2. In a small saucepan, combine black beans (undrained), garlic, chili powder, cumin and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until warmed through.

3. Split baked sweet potatoes in half and fill with ground turkey, black beans and desired toppings.


Coconut Macadamia Muffins with Lime Glaze

Coconut Macadami Muffins with Lime Glaze 5I really struggle with getting Noah to eat breakfast but one thing I can always get him to inhale without complaint is muffins. The healthiest choice? No, but the majority of the time I will make a whole wheat version with very little sugar. But this muffin is so not that. It has chia seeds and wheat germ though so that makes them healthy right? Still no?

We really like tropical, citrusy treats around here so when I came upon this recipe I knew it would be a hit. I decided to add macadamia nuts for some texture and crunch as well as the chia seeds and wheat germ to feel a little better about eating them. I also made them into muffins, rather than a loaf because the portable factor makes life easier for me. Coconut Macadami Muffins with Lime Glaze 2
The zesty lime glaze puts these muffins over the top. It lends such a citrus punch and makes you think for a second you are on the beach. But then you remember you’re in Nebraska and summer is almost over. Womp womp. I definitely plan on lots of muffins during the school year since they can be made the night before and my kids are guaranteed to eat them. If you’re in the same boat as me, check out my recipe index for a huge selection of muffin recipes. Can you tell we’re big fans?
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I also plan on making some big batches of whole wheat waffles to freeze for more easy breakfast options. Any other great, easy breakfast ideas for me?

Coconut Macadamia Muffins with Lime Glaze
recipe adapted from Wonky Wonderful

1½ cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs 3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 Tbsp. chia seed
2 Tbsp. wheat germ
1/2 cup macadamia nuts

for the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
Zest of 1 lime
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

2. Mix butter and sugar. Add eggs, coconut milk and vanilla while mixing. Gradually mix in dry ingredients.

3. Gently fold in flaked coconut, chia seeds, wheat germ and macadamia nuts.

4. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin papers or spray with non-stick spray.

5. Bake 16-20 minutes or until toothpick can be inserted and removed clean. Allow muffins to cool on rack.

6. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Mix powdered sugar and lime juice together until smooth. Poke holes in the muffins and spread half the glaze onto the muffins.

7. Stir coconut and lime zest into the remaining glaze and spread onto muffins. It will be thick. Coconut Macadami Muffins with Lime Glaze 1

Sunday Inspiration {After School Snacks}

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips 4
Noah will be eating lunch at 10:30 at school, ridiculous right? There are over 700 kids in his elementary school so I’m sure they have quite a lunch schedule but that just seems crazy early to me. So, needless to say, we will be needing a big time snack after school. Especially considering he goes until 3:40. I plan on making dirt in mason jars as a fun first day of school snack but otherwise we’ll opt for healthy options that won’t fill him up too much.

I love this roll-up idea (plus there’s a list of 24 other ideas!). They would be a great lunch option too.

Fun ways to present yogurt, which my kids love. Frozen always makes it more fun. This one too.

Fruit sushi is way too fun to resist.

We like a good savory snack, this one looks incredible.

We go through store-bought versions of fruit leather like nobody’s business. It would be fun to make a homemade version.

So much yes to these frozen peanut butter chocolate bananas.

We love popcorn and this looks like a fun flavor combo.

Presentation can make all the difference in getting kids to eat something healthy. This fruit salad in orange halves is way too cute.

These mini muffins are packed with whole grains and veggies and sweetened with pure maple syrup.

We make smoothie pops all the time. Seems like they are having a sweet treat but instead they filling up on fruit, yogurt and all the good things. Just freeze your favorite smoothie and enjoy.

This strawberry pretzel parfait looks amazing anytime of the day.

*Fruit Salsa picture above can be found here.