Spicy Turkey Meatballs

Everyone needs a good meatball recipe in their lives. These Spicy Turkey Meatballs are packed full of flavor with a subtle heat to make you keep going back for more. They are simmered in a rich tomato sauce and then can be spooned over your choice of pasta, topped off with some parmesan cheese and devoured.

Spicy Turkey Meatballs - KJ & Company

When you have these meatballs simmering away on your stovetop, they will fill your house with warmth! A rich, buttery tomato sauce with a slight hint of heat soaks into the turkey meatballs to make a perfect combination. The ease of these meatballs is just as equally as satisfying as eating them. Well, maybe not as satisfying as eating them, but it’s pretty close! All you need to do is assemble the meatballs, get the sauce simmering and then let them bathe in the tomato goodness until they are ready to eat. Dinner ready in a snap.

Spicy Turkey Meatballs - KJ & Company

Whether they are for a weeknight dinner, date night, or Sunday super, these meatballs will make anyone happy. Leftovers of these puppies aren’t so bad either! Serve them up family-style and have everyone dig in, or plate them for a beautiful masterpiece to impress everyone around you. Either way, they will be enjoyed!

Spicy Turkey Meatballs - KJ & Company

If you won’t have the time to make these meatballs when you get home for dinner, they can definitely be made in a crock pot for an easy dinner that’s ready when you get home! Simply add all of the ingredients for the sauce into the slow cooker, roll up the meatballs, place them in the sauce, set the cooker on low and have a wonderful dinner ready for you when you get home. Hassle-free and delicious.

 

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Spicy Turkey Meatballs

These Spicy Turkey Meatballs are packed full of flavor with a subtle heat to make you keep going back for more. They are simmered in a rich tomato sauce and then can be spooned over your choice of pasta, topped off with some parmesan cheese and devoured.

  • Author: KJ & Company - Kate Poskochil
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 12-15 meatballs depending on size made

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 – 29oz cans tomato sauce

For the turkey meatballs:

  • 2.5 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

For the sauce:

  1. In the bottom of a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onion and garlic and sauté until fragrant and translucent, about a few minutes. Add in the crushed red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, thyme and salt. Stir to combine.
  2. Pour in the tomato sauce and add in the butter. Stir until all of the ingredients are combined. Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce the heat to a medium-low heat.

For the turkey meatballs:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the ground turkey, egg, salt, crushed red pepper, oregano, cayenne pepper, bread crumbs and mozzarella cheese. Use either a rubber spatula or hands to combine (hands usually work the best).
  2. Roll the meatballs into rounded 2 tablespoon portions. Place all of the meatballs into the prepared sauce, about an inch in between each meatball to keep them from sticking to each other.
  3. Cover them with a lid and let them simmer for 25 minutes. Take the lid off, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for another 10 minutes until the sauce has slightly reduced and thickened. Serve with your choice of pasta, parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Notes

If you don’t have time or the ingredients to make the sauce from scratch, you can use your favorited canned spaghetti sauce to simmer the meatballs in. If you still want to keep the heat element in the sauce, I would still add in the the crushed red pepper flakes that the sauce calls for.

Spicy Turkey Meatballs - KJ & Company Spicy Turkey Meatballs - KJ & Company Spicy Turkey Meatballs - KJ & Company Spicy Turkey Meatballs - KJ & Company

 

Frosted Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars

Frosted Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars will win over anyone and everyone who eats one. Warm, cinnamon speckled oatmeal cookie bars studded with sweet raisins and topped with a creamy, cinnamon cream cheese frosting. It’s a warm, comforting and delicious bite! If you ask me, everything is better with cream cheese frosting.

Frosted Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars - KJ & Company

These are perfect for dessert or breakfast, if you ask me. I mean, sometimes you just need to start your day off with a Frosted Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bar and that’s ok. You won’t be able to resist going back for more! These cookie bars along with my Mudslide Fudge Brownies were so hard to resist that my yellow lab decided to eat a whole 13×9 pan full of both of them! A trip to the vet and a couple days on fluids, she is back home and ready to start counter-surfing again. Just kidding, we are going to have to be more careful about what we leave on the counters now!

Frosted Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars - KJ & Company

Whether these are for family, friends, pets (jk not really), or yourself, these Frosted Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars will be gone in a blink of an eye. Plus, you get a whole 13×9 pan full of them. That’s one of the best things about these cookie bars. They are simple to mix together, bake together in one pan and then all you have to do is frost them before you eat all of the frosting yourself. Does anyone else love cream cheese frosting as much as I do? Because I really love it, if you can’t tell.

Frosted Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars - KJ & Company

Bake up a batch of these simple and delicious cookie bars and get ready to have a full tummy and happy heart. Sometimes the simple things are the best things.

 

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Frosted Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars

Frosted Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars - KJ & Company

Frosted Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars will win over anyone and everyone who eats one. Warm, cinnamon speckled oatmeal cookie bars studded with sweet raisins and topped with a creamy, cinnamon cream cheese frosting. It’s a warm, comforting and delicious bite! If you ask me, everything is better with cream cheese frosting.

  • Author: KJ & Company - Kate Poskochil
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 13x9 pan of cookie bars

Ingredients

For the oatmeal raisin cookie bars:

  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins

For the cinnamon cream cheese frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

For the oatmeal raisin cookie bars:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray and line a 13×9 baking pan with cooking spray and parchment paper, set aside.
  2. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about a couple minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add in one egg at a time, making sure to wipe down the sides of the bowl in between each addition. Add in the vanilla extract.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. With the mixer speed on low, slowly add the flour mixture into the butter sugar mixture until a dough forms and the ingredients are incorporated evenly, about a minute or two.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, fold the raisins into the dough until evenly combined. Press the dough into an even layer in the prepared 13×9 baking pan. The dough may be a bit sticky and that is ok. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely prior to frosting.

For the cinnamon cream cheese frosting:

  1. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about a couple minutes. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add in the powdered sugar until it is completely combined.
  2. Mix in the vanilla extract and cinnamon until the frosting is smooth and creamy. Frost and enjoy!

Notes

Your hands are your best tools! You may need to use them to press the dough into the 13×9 pan.

Frosted Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars - KJ & Company Frosted Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars - KJ & Company Frosted Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars - KJ & Company Frosted Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars - KJ & Company

 

 

Mudslide Fudge Brownies

Mudslide Fudge Brownies are all that you could ask for in a sweet treat. A decadent brownie base swirled with chocolate chips and espresso, then topped with a creamy peanut butter frosting and sprinkled with crushed chocolate sandwich cookies. How much better can it get? Not much! Once you take a bite of these delicious brownies, there is no turning back.

Mudslide Fudge Brownies - KJ & Company

You really have it all: chocolate, coffee, peanut butter and cookies all in one bite. These puppies are so good that my yellow lab, Darbi, agrees as well. She hopped right on up on the counter while we were gone and ate a whole 13×9 pan full of these Mudslide Fudge Brownies and an oatmeal raisin goodie (which is coming soon!) that resulted in her spending a couple days at the vet. She’s on the mend, but she sure did indulge! Note to self: do not leave these on the counter! Whether it’s playful pups, kids, family or friends, these brownies will disappear!

Mudslide Fudge Brownies - KJ & Company

Let’s take a minute to talk about the creamy, dreamy peanut butter frosting you get to frost across the top of these brownies. I could just eat it with a spoon! You’ll want to top everything you can with this frosting. It’s perfect for frosting brownies, cakes, cupcakes or anything else in your life that you need frosting for. You’re welcome.

Mudslide Fudge Brownies - KJ & Company

These Mudslide Fudge Brownies are perfect for any occasion and packed with flavor in every bite. Dig on in!

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Mudslide Fudge Brownies

Mudslide Fudge Brownies - KJ & Company

Mudslide Fudge Brownies are all that you could ask for in a sweet treat. A decadent brownie base swirled with chocolate chips and espresso, then topped with a creamy peanut butter frosting and sprinkled with crushed chocolate sandwich cookies. How much better can it get? Not much! Once you take a bite of these delicious brownies, there is no turning back.

  • Author: KJ & Company - Kate Poskochil
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 13x9 pan of brownies

Ingredients

For the brownies:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • Chocolate sandwich cookies, such as Oreos, for topping

Instructions

For the brownies:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13×9 baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper for easy removal. Set aside. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the eggs, milk, sour cream, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and espresso powder on medium-low speed until combined and smooth, about a minute.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and salt. With the mixer speed on low, slowly add the flour mixture into the liquids until a batter forms, about a couple minutes.
  3. Using a rubber spatula, fold the chocolate chips into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely prior to frosting.

For the frosting:

  1. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about a couple minutes. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add in the powdered sugar until the frosting is smooth. Add in the peanut butter and mix until creamy and combined. Frost desired brownies, cakes, cupcakes or eat with a spoon.

Notes

If you don’t have time to make your own brownie batter, simply add a couple tablespoons of espresso powder to your store-bought brownie mix and bake as package instructions say. You can then top with the frosting recipe listed above.

Mudslide Fudge Brownies - KJ & Company Mudslide Fudge Brownies - KJ & Company Mudslide Fudge Brownies - KJ & Company Mudslide Fudge Brownies - KJ & Company

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes in life all you need is a good cookie. Or two or three! Peanut butter and chocolate go together like Tom & Jerry, so when you put them into a cookie together you have a perfect match! These Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies are packed full of rich chocolate chips, and smoothed out by the velvety taste of peanut butter. They are little chocolate peanut butter pillows of delight and you may just want to eat them all.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies - KJ & Company

What I love so much about cookies is how they can be planned out, or just made on a whim. These Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies were the later of the two options. It was snowy, cold and, quite frankly, the perfect, cloudy weather for food photography. So, I set out my butter, preheated my oven, turned on the Food Network and got to work!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies - KJ & Company

Don’t worry, you get to lick the peanut butter spoon while you are waiting for these little babies to bake away in the oven. One of the perks about being the cook, no one will ever know that you did.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies - KJ & Company

This is basically a chocolate chip cookie taken to the next level. The peanut butter helps make them extra velvety, rich, slightly nutty and all sorts of delicious. It’s a cookie made out of simple ingredients that you most likely have sitting in your refrigerator and cupboards. Nothing fancy, just a good, old-fashioned cookie.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies - KJ & Company

Dunk these straight into a glass of cold milk and you will be ready to be tucked into bed in no time. Bake these up for any family gathering, weeknight dessert, holiday, party, date night, or any other reason that you need a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie in your life. Which, if you ask me, could be just because you need a cookie. Life is better with cookies, don’t you think?

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

These Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies are packed full of rich chocolate chips, and smoothed out by the velvety taste of peanut butter. They are little chocolate peanut butter pillows of delight and you may just want to eat them all.  It’s a cookie made out of simple ingredients that you most likely have sitting in your refrigerator and cupboards. Nothing fancy, just a good old-fashioned cookie.

  • Author: KJ & Company - Kate Poskochil
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 18-20 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 11 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about a couple minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add in one egg at a time, making sure to wipe down the sides and bottom of the bowl in between each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract and peanut butter on low speed until just combined.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. With the mixer speed on low, slowly add the flour mixture into the butter and peanut butter mixture. Mix until a dough has formed, about a minute.
  3. Using a rubber spatula, fold the chocolate chips into the dough until completely incorporated. Scoop the dough in rounded tablespoons onto a non-greased baking sheet, spacing them at least a couple inches apart. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and being careful to not over-cook the bottoms of the cookies.
  4. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to continue cooling. Enjoy!

 

Notes

  • You can use either smooth or chunky peanut butter depending on your preference. I always go with smooth!
  • Semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips can be used in this recipe.

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies - KJ & Company Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies - KJ & Company Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies - KJ & Company Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies - KJ & Company

Wine and Balsamic Braised Short Ribs

Short ribs always used to be a scary thing to me – almost like a daunting task to take on. But do not fear! Short ribs will win you over the minute you take a bite of their rich goodness. Wine and Balsamic Braised Short Ribs are surprisingly hassle-free and loaded with enough flavor to make you feel like an Iron Chef. These short ribs are rich, decadent, slightly sassy and won’t disappoint. The full, rich beef flavor is paired perfectly with the wine and balsamic to give it the lift and flavor profiles to make your tastebuds soar.

All the work that you have to do with these decadent short ribs is sear them off in the beginning, put them all back into the pot, cover them with all the goodies and then let them bake away in the oven for a few hours. How great is that? You can make a decadent meal ahead of time! That’s right, not slaving around in the kitchen with 500 different dishes that you have to clean for a good meal.

These Wine and Balsamic Braised Short Ribs are perfect for any date night, Valentine’s Day, holiday party, family get-together, feeding a crowd, or even Superbowl Sunday. It’s a magical dish that can cover all occasions for you. All you have to do when guests arrive is pull this baby out of the oven and watch them disappear. These short ribs paired perfectly with my Asiago Herb Mashed Potatoes and chunk of a crispy baguette. They are literally fall-off-the-bone perfect and will melt in your mouth.

Short ribs are the perfect way to get the most bang out of your buck. As they are generally not a more expensive cut of meat, you can create amazing things out of them for less than you would think. I have found that it is best to ask your butcher to cut the spare ribs for you into the size that you desire, as you tend to get more meat than the pre-packaged options. If you only have access to the pre-packaged options, they will work just fine!

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Wine and Balsamic Braised Short Ribs

5 from 1 reviews

Wine and Balsamic Braised Short Ribs are surprisingly hassle-free and loaded with enough flavor to make you feel like an Iron Chef. These short ribs are rich, decadent, slightly sassy and won’t disappoint. The full, rich beef flavor is paired perfectly with the wine and balsamic to give it the lift and flavor profiles to make your tastebuds soar.

  • Author: KJ & Company - Kate Poskochil
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 8-12 servings, or 2-4 with leftovers

Ingredients

  • 8-12 short ribs (depending on how many people you need to feed)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 32 oz beef stock

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. In a 7 quart dutch oven or oven and stovetop safe pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Season the short ribs on all sides with salt and pepper (let your salt ratio be more than your pepper ratio).
  2. Working with a few short ribs at a time, sear them on all sides until golden brown. This process may take a little time, but will be worth it in the end. Once the first batch is seared on all sides, remove them from the pan and add in the next batch until all the spare ribs are seared and set aside.
  3. If there is a large amount of excess fat in the bottom of your dutch oven, remove it until a couple tablespoons is left on the bottom. Add in the onion and saute for several minutes, or until they become slightly translucent and soft. Add in the garlic and fresh herbs and saute until fragrent.
  4. Deglaze the bottom of the pan by adding in the red wine and balsamic vinegar into the onions and herbs, making sure to scrape up the bottom of the dutch oven. Arrange all of the short ribs back into the dutch oven with the ribs facing up. Pour enough beef stock into the pot to just cover the tops of the spare ribs.
  5. Cover with a lid and bake for 3 – 3 1/2 hours, or until the spare ribs are fork tender. Remove them from the oven and serve with the natural au jus, or ladle out some of the braising liquid into a small saucepan and reduce it over medium heat until it has thickened and serve over the top of the spare ribs.

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Bars

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Bars! Try saying that 5 times fast. Even though it’s a mouthful to say, they are a mouthful of flavor when you take a bite! These cheesecake bars are loaded with sweet cherries that are swirled into a creamy filling and sitting on top of a chocolate crust. Drizzle them with a dark chocolate ganache before serving and then you have a match made in heaven.

The sweet, fruity flavor of the cherries pairs perfectly with the rich chocolate. In every bite, you get a rich, dark chocolate explosion brightened and highlighted by a creamy, cherry filling. No food coloring is needed here, as the bars will take on a natural pink color from the cherries. Perfect for a Valentine’s Day treat if you ask me! Or any day, actually, because these Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Bars don’t need to be confined to just V-Day because of their sweet pink color! They are equally as delicious for any occasion.

One thing that I love about these cheesecake bars is how they are surprisingly simple to make. You don’t have to worry about a water bath or the top of the cheesecake cracking, because you are going to be pouring chocolate all over these lovely bars anyways! You whip them up a day or so in advance, let them cool on the countertop before popping them in the refrigerator to set for at least a few hours. How much easier can it get? When you’re ready for dessert, bring them out, cut them up and drizzle them with dark chocolate ganache. You will get a round of applause, even if it’s just from yourself! 🙂

Whether you need a date night dessert for two (with leftovers!), a dessert to feed a crowd, or something sweet for a special occasion, these Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Bars will not disappoint!

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Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Bars

5 from 1 reviews

These cheesecake bars are loaded with sweet cherries that are swirled into a creamy filling and sitting on top of a chocolate crust. Drizzle them with a dark chocolate ganache before serving and then you have a match made in heaven.

  • Author: KJ & Company - Kate Poskochil
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes baking, 4 hours cooling
  • Total Time: 5 hours, 20 minutes
  • Yield: 9-12 servings

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 3 cups finely crushed chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs (about a 15 oz package of Oreos, for example)
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

For the filling:

  • 4 – 8oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 oz frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed and roughly chopped

For the ganache topping:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions

For the crust:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and the melted butter until the cookie crumbs are evenly coated in the butter. Press the mixture into an even layer on the bottom of 13×9 baking pan that has been sprayed on the bottom and sides with cooking spray. Set aside.

For the filling:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together the thawed cherries and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Set aside to let the cherries soak in the sugar.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed,  beat together the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy, about a minute or so. Reduce the speed to low and add in one egg at a time, making sure to wipe down the edges of the bowl between each addition. Mix in the heavy cream and the vanilla extract until just combined.
  3. Drain the liquid that the cherries gave off from soaking in the sugar. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the cherries into the cream cheese mixture until fully combined. Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared 13×9 baking pan in an even layer.
  4. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the center of the cheesecake bars has set and the top is very slightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature for about an hour. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours prior to serving, or up to a day or so in advance.

For the ganache topping:

  1. About 30 minutes prior to serving, bring the heavy cream to a very low simmer over low heat in a small sauce pan. Add in the dark chocolate chips and whisk until smooth and glossy, making sure that the mixture does not boil.
  2. You can drizzle the bars with the ganache topping before or after cutting them to serve. Allow the ganache to set for about 10 minutes and cool down after you drizzle the cheesecake bars with it. Enjoy!

 

Baked Lemon Blueberry Donuts

I say that if you make anything into a donut form its going to be fun and delicious. That’s even coming from me, someone who hasn’t always been a donut fan due to the unhealthy factor of them. Well, by golly, make baked donuts and you eliminate the frying factor! You can have the best of both worlds. These Baked Lemon Blueberry Donuts are bursting with fresh blueberries and brightened by sweet lemon zest. Drizzle them with a lemon scented, white chocolate ganache and they will disappear before your eyes!

It is always such a great feeling when you can make people happy with food, especially your family and friends around you! My husband and sister couldn’t keep their hands off of these Baked Lemon Blueberry Donuts and that is how you know they are family-approved. Sometimes your mess-ups in the kitchen can turn out to be a great thing! These Baked Lemon Blueberry Donuts started out as a muffin recipe, but quickly turned into a bundt cake recipe when I realized I had no muffin liners. I then overcooked the bundt cake and it was so dry it fell apart. Take two with the recipe on the next day, and the muffin liners I had bought didn’t fit my muffin tins (seriously?!), so I pulled the donut pan out of the cupboards and it was a perfect match. Why didn’t I just think to make donuts in the first place? Moral of the story: donuts are always a good option.

The lemon scented, white chocolate ganache that you drizzle over the top of these Baked Lemon Blueberry Donuts give them the perfect glaze that you would find on an original glazed donut. After the ganache sets, it keeps it’s form and creates a slight shell, but is sticky and gooey once you bite in. You know how your fingers are always covered in sticky glaze after eating a classic glazed donut? Get ready for the same effect.

Not only are these baked donuts bursting with flavor, but they are also fairly quick and easy to whip up! The batter will be slightly thick, so when you are piping it into the donut pan patience is key. Trust me, the end result is to die for! Bake these up for a delicious breakfast, brunch or even dessert! How fun would these be if you put a big, ol’ scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle of the donut and then drizzled them with the white chocolate ganache? Ok, I’m going to have to try that now.

 

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Baked Lemon Blueberry Donuts

These Baked Lemon Blueberry Donuts are bursting with fresh blueberries and brightened by sweet lemon zest. Drizzle them with a lemon scented, white chocolate ganache and they will disappear before your eyes!

 

  • Author: KJ & Company - Kate Poskochil
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 donuts

Ingredients

For the donuts:

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

For the drizzle:

  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups heavy cream (depending on consistency you desire)
  • 8 oz white chocolate baking bar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Instructions

For the donuts:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and the sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about a couple minutes. Reduce the speed to low and mix in one egg at a time, making sure to wipe down the edges of the bowl between each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer speed on low, alternate adding in the flour mixture and the heavy cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and insuring each addition is mixed in before adding another.
  3. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the blueberries and lemon zest into the batter. The batter will be thick, so be careful to not crush the blueberries. Using a piping bag or a large, plastic food storage bag with a corner cut off, pipe the batter into a sprayed donut pan. Pipe each donut 3/4 of the way full.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean and the donuts are slightly golden. Turn the donuts over and out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

For the drizzle:

  1. In a small sauce pan, bring the heavy cream to a very low simmer. Whisk in the white chocolate baking bars and continue to whisk until smooth, about 3-5 minutes. You can adjust the consistency of the ganache by adding more or less heavy cream until you get the thick or thin consistency you desire. If it is too thick, add in more heavy cream.
  2. Whisk in the lemon zest until smooth. Pour the ganache over the donuts and allow to set for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!

 

 

Notes

If you are using white chocolate chips instead of a white chocolate baking bar, you may get a completely different consistency and will need to adjust your ganache accordingly.

 

 

Shrimp Scampi Linguine

Shrimp Scampi Linguine holds a special place in my heart. You ask why? You may want to sit down for this one. I did it – I actually did it! I got my shrimp-hating husband to eat a shrimp dish, and LOVE it! And I quote, “Every bite of shrimp was like a flavor explosion in my mouth!”. That’s it ladies and gentlemen. That is all I need. I love creating delicious food for those around me, and it’s especially great when I can make something new for my picky-eater husband to try and to love. I do have to give him some credit, though, because his tastebuds have come a long ways since we’ve been together. This shrimp scampi dish was so fun for me to make, and has already been requested to be made again for this weekend! I’ll take it. Also, it took me about 30 minutes from start to finish. How great is that?

This dish also brought me back to remembering how much I love to cook with wine. In every bite, you can taste the perfect medley of white wine, garlic, lemon, butter and parsley. It makes you just want to close your eyes and savor it. I used a Sauvignon Blanc, but really any white wine you have on hand will work as long as it isn’t too sweet or bubbly. Call me crazy, but sometimes there’s nothing better than the aroma of white wine reducing over fresh, garlicky shrimp with just a spritz of lemon juice smoothed over by the richness of melted butter. Can’t you smell it already?

For the shrimp, I went ahead and used a regular size, but jumbo shrimp would sure make a great pairing as well with this dish. I just grabbed a bag of raw, frozen shrimp from the freezer section, so don’t fret over getting the fanciest shrimp that you can from seafood department (but if you want to then go for it). I would say to stick to the ratio of 1/2 pound of pasta to 12 oz of shrimp, so that each serving of pasta is perfectly coated with the rich, velvetly sauce, and tangled up with the perfect amount of shrimp. Depending on your serving size, this could feed 2-4 people, but I would bank on only serving 2 off of it because you don’t want to go skimpy with the scampi.

This recipe was originally posted a couple years ago, but it has been such a favorite of ours that I couldn’t resist sharing it again! Make this simple and delicious dish a weeknight staple in your house and you won’t be disappointed.

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Shrimp Scampi Linguine

In every bite of this Shrimp Scampi Linguine, you can taste the perfect medley of white wine, garlic, lemon, butter and parsley. It makes you just want to close your eyes and savor it. Sometimes there’s nothing better than the aroma of white wine reducing over fresh, garlicky shrimp with just a spritz of lemon juice smoothed over by the richness of melted butter. Can’t you smell it already?

  • Author: KJ & Company - Kate Poskochil
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2-4 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 oz raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 pound linguine pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, bring enough water to a boil to appropriately cook your linguine pasta. Heavily salt the water and add the pasta in once the water reaches a rolling boil. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until al dente according to package instructions. Drain, lightly coat with some additional olive oil, and set aside.
  2. In a medium sized skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the shrimp and cook for a couple minutes on each side, or until they turn pink. Add in the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about another minute.
  3. Pour in the white wine over the shrimp and deglaze the bottom of the pan. Cook for a couple minutes or until the wine has slightly reduced. Add in the butter and reduce the heat to low. Add in the fresh lemon juice and parsley, and let simmer for a couple minutes to get all the flavored combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Toss the linguine with the shrimp until all the linguine is coated with the sauce. Plate and serve immediately with additional chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese.

 

Notes

Whole wheat pasta or pasta of choice can be subbed for the linguine.

Coconut Oatmeal Baked Apples

I’ve never been much of a breakfast eater, just give me my coffee and a granola bar and I’m good to go! But these Coconut Oatmeal Baked Apples may have just changed my mind! Stuffing the apples full of coconut oatmeal, baking them until they are perfectly done, topping them off with Greek yogurt and a dusting of cinnamon makes these baked apples the perfect breakfast vessel. All you could want in a breakfast is wrapped up in a perfect, little baked apple package. Not only are these Coconut Oatmeal Baked Apples a delicious breakfast, but they are also sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free! Who would’ve thought that you could have it all?

These Coconut Oatmeal Baked Apples are such a heart-warming breakfast to start your day. They are filled full of oatmeal that has been simmered in coconut milk, delicious cinnamon, and, of course, the naturally sweet apple to hold it all together. How fun are these? Set one of these on the table for breakfast and start your morning off with a smile! These baked apples are also great for meal-prepping. Make these Coconut Oatmeal Baked Apples the night before, pop one in the microwave in the morning, top it off however you desire (Greek yogurt, honey, cinnamon and nuts are my choice!) and dig in.

Even though these are sugar-free (only natural sugars from the fruit and coconut milk), dairy-free, and gluten-free, you would never know! My husband devoured his and was in disbelief that they could be so healthy and good at the same time. Eating healthy doesn’t mean that you need to sacrifice flavor! These Coconut Oatmeal Baked Apples simply highlight the natural flavors of all the ingredients in them.

I may just be converted into a breakfast eater with these baked apples! They are just so darn cute, too 🙂 .

 

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Coconut Oatmeal Baked Apples

Stuffing the apples full of coconut oatmeal, baking them until they are perfectly done, topping them off with Greek yogurt and a dusting of cinnamon makes these baked apples the perfect breakfast vessel. All you could want in a breakfast is wrapped up in a perfect, little baked apple package. Not only are these Coconut Oatmeal Baked Apples a delicious breakfast, but they are also sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free! Who would’ve thought that you could have it all?

  • Author: KJ & Company - Kate Poskochil
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50-55 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 baked apples

Ingredients

  • 6 Gala apples
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (your choice of sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Topping Ideas:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Whipped cream
  • Cinnamon
  • Honey
  • Chopped nuts
  • Fresh fruit
  • Coconut flakes

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small sauce pan, whisk together the coconut milk and oats and bring to simmer over low heat. Cover with a lid and let slowly simmer for about 8 minutes, or until the oatmeal is cooked through, thickened and most of the coconut milk has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, using either an apple corer or a small pairing knife, remove the core from the apples and slightly hollow out the insides of the apples to make a place to stuff them with the oatmeal. Try to keep the opening at the top of the apples round and from going too far down the sides the apples as the oatmeal will spill out when baking.
  4. Evenly dust the apples with the cinnamon. Fill the apples evenly with the oatmeal and carefully place them into a 13×9 baking dish oatmeal side up. Lightly cover the dish with foil and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the apples are soft and baked through.
  5. Remove from the oven and top with desired toppings such as Greek yogurt, honey, cinnamon and chopped nuts. Enjoy!

Notes

You can use any apple of your choice depending on how sweet or tart you like your apples to be.

Almond milk, soy milk or regular milk can be used in place of the coconut milk.

Honey Sesame Roasted Chicken

A roasted chicken for dinner is timeless and home-warming. Whether you’re talking about a weeknight meal or a Sunday dinner, a chicken dinner is always the winner! So why not go outside the chicken dinner box a little bit? Honey Sesame Roasted Chicken is the perfect way to amp up your usual weeknight or weekend dinner! It is packed full of rich flavors to transport your tastebuds. From sweet honey, to nutty sesame, to salty soy sauce and umami packed hoisin,  this Honey Sesame Roasted Chicken is a perfectly balanced punch in every bite.

When you place this Honey Sesame Roasted Chicken on the table, you will wow everyone you are feeding! You know that greasy, rich, super satisfying but yet really un-healthy sesame chicken you get when you order Chinese take out? Well, you roast up this chicken and you just met it’s match! Toss out all of the guilt of eating it, though, because this chicken is all sorts of good for you. The secret is in the sauce. After the chicken is done roasting, serve it up with brown rice, a green veggie of choice and then spoon the sauce from the bottom of the pan all over your plate. Trust me, it’s that good!

The chicken will naturally get all sorts of crispy and golden while you are roasting it, so you won’t even miss the fried version! The bed of onions and carrots that you roast the chicken on top of soak up all of the wonderful juices from the sauce and are a perfect side to serve along side this chicken.

Your house will smell crazy good once you get this Honey Sesame Roasted Chicken roasting away in your oven. Going back for seconds is encouraged and leftovers are going to be fought over. You don’t want to miss out on this one! Whether you have a blizzard blowing outside your window or the sun shining on the ocean, this Honey Sesame Roasted Chicken is perfect for all climates and occasions.

 

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Honey Sesame Roasted Chicken

Honey Sesame Roasted Chicken is the perfect way to amp up your usual weeknight or weekend dinner! It is packed full of rich flavors to transport your tastebuds. From sweet honey, to nutty sesame, to salty soy sauce and umami packed hoisin,  this Honey Sesame Roasted Chicken is a perfectly balanced punch in every bite.

  • Author: KJ & Company - Kate Poskochil
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 4.5 pound whole chicken
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, plus a little extra for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 4 green onion stalks, plus a couple extra for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In the bottom of a 7 quart dutch oven, or a baking dish large enough to hold the chicken, place the onions and carrots in an even layer. Place the chicken on top of the onion and carrot layer and pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the teriyaki sauce, hoisin, soy sauce, honey, garlic, sesame seeds and red chili flakes until combined. Evenly pour the sauce over the chicken until it is completely covered. Place 2 green onion stalks on both sides of the chicken.
  3. Cover with a lid or tightly wrap with foil and roast the chicken for 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven after 45 minutes and baste it with the sauce and juices from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the oven heat back down to 400 and bake the chicken uncovered for another 45 minutes to an hour, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 165 degrees. While the chicken is roasting uncovered, baste it with the juices and sauce from the bottom of the pan every 10 minutes or so and rotate the pan to insure that the chicken is getting evenly browned on all sides.
  4. Prior to serving, baste the chicken once more in the sauce from the bottom of the pan and garnish with fresh sesame seeds and additional chopped green onions.

Notes

This recipe will work with any size of chicken! Choose your chicken size based on how many people you would like to serve. You may need to adjust your roasting time if you choose a smaller or larger chicken.

Mocha Fudge Mug Cakes

There was a time after Christmas and the New Years that I didn’t have any dessert in the house. I don’t know what happened, but it was a tragedy! How do I have nothing on hand? Not even a parcel of a cookie was left. To say it was a disaster is an understatement. Not even a box of brownie mix was in the cupboards. Sitting there in a total disastrous state, a light bulb went off in my head! MUG CAKES. Mug cakes are the answer to any quick and urgent dessert request! All the wonderful fudgy, moist flavor of a chocolate cake in the palm of your hand, literally. You can have a spoonful of chocolate cake in your mouth in under 5 minutes, how great is that?!

I love how fun and easy these Mocha Fudge Mug Cakes are. They are packed full of all the chocolate flavor you could dream of with a hint of espresso to keep you going back for more. Top these off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a dusting of espresso powder and a few extra chocolate chips for good measure. Dig in with a spoon and be as happy as a bug in a rug.

Who would’ve thought that you could make a cake in a mug in your microwave? It’s pure genius if you ask me. I’m a chocoholic, so the more chocolate chips the better! The espresso powder doesn’t overpower the chocolate, but accents it and gives it a deeper, more rich flavor. They are match made in heaven and given to you in a mug. I don’t think it can get much better than that. Toss all of the ingredients into your favorite mug, whisk it all together, microwave it for a little over a minute, top it off however you desire and then dig in to the mug cake of your dreams.

Have your cake and eat it too, and in under 5 minutes! 🙂

 

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Mocha Fudge Mug Cakes

I love how fun and easy these Mocha Fudge Mug Cakes are. They are packed full of all the chocolate flavor you could dream of with a hint of espresso to keep you going back for more. Top these off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a dusting of espresso powder and a few extra chocolate chips for good measure. Dig in with a spoon and be as happy as a bug in a rug. Cake in under 5 minutes and in the palm of your hand.

  • Author: KJ & Company - Kate Poskochil
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 minute 30 seconds
  • Total Time: 6 minutes 30 seconds
  • Yield: 1 mug cake

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons milk, such as 2%
  • 3 tablespoons oil, such as vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. In a microwave safe mug, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and espresso powder until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Whisk in the oil, milk and vanilla extract until the batter is smooth.
  2. Stir in the dark chocolate chips into the batter until combined. Microwave on high for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Remove the mug cake from the microwave and allow to cool for a couple minutes.
  3. Top the mug cake with desired toppings such vanilla ice cream, chocolate chips or a dusting of extra espresso powder.

 

 

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chicken Enchiladas

When it comes to healthy comfort food, these Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas are the way to go! I say you should never have to give up comfort and flavor just to eat a little bit more on the healthy side. Loaded with natural protein from the chicken and black beans, these enchiladas also get a boost in nutrients from the sweet potatoes. And of course, there always needs to be cheese!

I think that the sweet potatoes blend in beautifully with all of the wonderful flavors of these enchiladas. They act as a perfect, slightly sweet filler to accompany the chicken and black beans. You know what’s so great about enchiladas? You can sneak about anything into them and they will turn out delicious! Toss in some fresh spinach leaves to get in some extra greens and you won’t even know. They are very customizable as you can sub out the chicken if you want them to be vegetarian, or add in a different bean, or even a butternut squash if you don’t have the sweet potatoes and black beans on hand. This combo of the Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chicken Enchiladas is a fiesta in every bite. A healthy fiesta, too.

Enchiladas also make a great meal prep option, as you can make them in advance and reheat them as needed. I love to serve mine with some sour cream, extra cheese (of course) and fresh avocado. The creaminess of the sour cream and avocado are just a match made in heaven when paired with these Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chicken Enchiladas.

Warm up from the inside out with these enchiladas and don’t you dare feel guilty about it! You are eating healthy proteins and veggies after all :).

 

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Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chicken Enchiladas

When it comes to healthy comfort food, these Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas are the way to go! I say you should never have to give up comfort and flavor just to eat a little bit more on the healthy side. Loaded with natural protein from the chicken and black beans, these enchiladas also get a boost in nutrients from the sweet potatoes. And of course, there always needs to be cheese!

  • Author: KJ & Company - Kate Poskochil
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 65 minutes
  • Yield: 8 enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 small/medium sized sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 8 whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 – 10 oz cans enchilada sauce
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained
  • 8 oz shredded cheese, such as cheddar, mozzarella or a Mexican mix
  • 1 cup sour cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On a standard size baking sheet, arrange the chicken tenders on one half of the baking sheet and the sweet potato on the other half, keeping the two ingredients from touching.
  2. Drizzle both the chicken and the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil each. Followed by 1 teaspoon of seasoned salt each. Working with just the chicken, evenly sprinkle it with the chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. Cover the entire baking sheet with foil and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the pan from the oven and shred the chicken with a fork. Leave the sweet potatoes as is to cool.
  3. Pour one can of the enchilada sauce onto a large plate or dish that will keep it from running off the sides. Starting an assembly line and using one tortilla at a time, dip both sides of the tortilla into the prepared enchilada sauce and then transfer to a plate or cutting board. Fill it with sour cream, cheese, black beans, shredded chicken and sweet potatoes, making sure that you evenly distribute the ingredients throughout the 8 tortillas and save a little extra cheese to be sprinkled on top at the end. Roll it up tight and place into a 13×9 baking pan. Repeat this process until all the tortillas and ingredients are used, prepared, rolled and placed into the baking pan.
  4. Cover the prepared enchiladas with the remaining can of enchilada sauce and sprinkle the top with any remaining/extra cheese. Bake the enchiladas for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted and the sides are bubbling slightly.
  5. Serve with additional sour cream, cheese, avocados, jalepenos or any toppings you desire.

Notes

The whole wheat tortillas can be subbed for any tortilla of choice.

Mango Matcha Green Smoothie

Whether you’re looking for a healthy option for breakfast, lunch, or post-workout boost, this Mango Matcha Green Smoothie has it all. It is hands-down my go-to smoothie whenever I pull out my blender. A delicious and easy smoothie packed full of natural vitamins and nutrients? Count me in!

I originally shared this simple and hassle-free recipe last spring here on KJ & Company, but it is just too good to not share again! It’s an easy way to sneak in extra veggies and fruits into your daily routine. It can help boost your immune system, give you a natural caffeine kick from the matcha, and a dose of some good, dark, leafy greens. All of that and it tastes like a dream. Otherwise I wouldn’t be drinking it… 🙂

If you follow along with me on Instagram (@kjandcompany), you have seen lately that I have been trying out Daily Harvest Smoothies. No this is not an add or sponsored by them in any way, but I have absolutely loved them! They are packed full of so many amazing, organic ingredients, delivered to your door frozen and easily kept in your freezer until you are ready to blend one up. I can even get John to drink them (this is a huge deal!!). But, I switched from their weekly delivery plan to their monthly delivery plan and I don’t get any until the middle of January, so I have turned to this Mango Matcha Green Smoothie on the daily to get my fix!

Blend this Mango Matcha Smoothie up, add it to your routine and it is sure to become on of your new favorites. It definitely is one of mine! 🙂

 

Mango Matcha Green Smoothie

makes 1 smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1 cup fresh spinach (1 large handful)
  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 1 1/3 cup soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Directions:

  1. Starting with the frozen mango chunks, add all of the ingredients into the bottom of a blender.
  2. Blend on high for several minutes or until the smoothie is to the desired texture and consistency. More soy milk may need to be added depending on desired consistency. Enjoy!

Why I Didn’t Try to Lose Weight for Hawaii

About this time last year, we decided to go ahead and take the plunge and book our trip to Hawaii. We were full of excitement and ready to adventure somewhere new together! And guess what? I didn’t start any crazy diets, I didn’t start weighing myself, and I didn’t change my workout regime. Why not? Let me tell you..

Photo Courtesy of Sunny Golden Photography

It’s taken me awhile to get here and I certainly haven’t always had this mindset, but I want to learn to love my body and appreciate it every day for what it is, that God has blessed me with health and I am able to explore the world He created. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be healthy, because I certainly strive for that every day. I want my body to be as healthy as it can be every day, and not just for a single trip. I don’t want to feel my best just when I’m vacationing on the beach, but also when I’m sitting at home in my sweat pants with messy hair and un-matching socks.

Photo Courtesy of Sunny Golden Photography

I’ve struggled with learning what being healthy means for me and my body. Going through eating disorders, tracking my weight and working out only because I felt like I had to (which you can read more about here), were all necessary things for me to go through for me to realize what my body truly needs. That doesn’t mean they were good, healthy, or experiences that I would recommend anyone to go through, but it lead me to where I am now! I’m not perfect and I still struggle with feeling like a rollie-pollie some days or find myself critiquing my body in the mirror, but I’m working on focusing my mind to other things. My body is strong, my body is capable of amazing things and I get to nourish and take care of it.

Photo Courtesy of Sunny Golden Photography

So, when we booked our trip to Hawaii, I knew it would be hard for me to think that I shouldn’t eat certain things or that I needed to exercise more for my “Hawaii bod”. Because of my past experiences, I knew it would be unhealthy for me to set a weight goal, as it would do nothing but discourage me and overtake my thinking. Instead, I just kept on the track that I was already on. Eating healthy and nutritional packed foods to nourish my body, but still indulging in sweet treats and Chick-Fil-A every once in awhile, working out to strengthen my body and to feel good, but also taking rest days to let my body recuperate, and finding clothes that fit my body type instead of making my body fit into the clothes. That included swim suits. A huge part of me feeling so comfortable in my skin in a swimsuit was finding the ones that worked for me and made me feel confident.My 2017 Swimsuit Recap goes over all the details of what I’ve found that works for me! 🙂

Photo Courtesy of Sunny Golden Photography

Another important thing to remember is that everyone’s story is different. Healthy looks different for every person and that is ok! It may be healthy for you to set weight goals, track calories or give yourself a goal/trip/vacation to work towards. Whatever is healthy for you and your body is what you need to pursue!

Photo Courtesy of Sunny Golden Photography

This time of year can be so discouraging as you see everyone pursuing/pushing their New Years resolutions, weight loss, diet changes and fitness dreams. I almost felt bombarded on Pinterest with all of the healthy food and pictures of women with their 6-pack abs, super toned arms and perfectly golden skin giving workout tutorials. I’m not saying these things are wrong, but I quickly found myself feeling smaller and smaller as if I wasn’t doing enough and was comparing myself to things on the Internet. Isn’t it so crazy how quickly we can get sucked in? I had to take a big reality check and remember who I am, what I’ve done and what all I’m going to do. Then I took another bite of my Nutella and moved on ;). Let’s use this time of year to encourage one another, lift each other up and highlight each other’s strengths! Social media and our culture can easily make you feel like you aren’t enough or you will never compare, and I think it’s time that we change that! 🙂 Everyone and every body is fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139

 

Photos Courtesy of Sunny Golden Photography 

 

Banana Bread with Nutella Glaze

Ok, do I really need to say anything more if this banana bread loaf is drizzled and topped of with a Nutella glaze?! I mean, you can never go wrong with Nutella! If you know me, my all-time favorite dessert, hands-down, no matter what is Nutella and bananas, or ‘tella and ‘nanas as I like to call it. Bananas and Nutella are just a whimsical match made in heaven.

PS: this post is in no way sponsored by Nutella (but how awesome would that be?!) I JUST LOVE IT SO MUCH.

Banana Bread with a Nutella Glaze

I’m the only one in our household who eats bananas, because John hates them and I think its super weird. So, whenever I have some extra bananas lying around that are getting too ripe, banana bread it is! One of my favorite banana bread recipes is my Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins with Dark Chocolate. But sometimes you need a good old-fashioned banana bread loaf, and that is where this Banana Bread with Nutella Glaze comes in.

You want to know whats so great about this banana bread recipe besides how wonderful each bite is? Well, let me tell you. It can be breakfast, dessert or a daytime snack. It’s just that good. By golly, if you want to fancy this up and make it into a dessert, top a warm piece of the Banana Bread with Nutella Glaze with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and dive on in! Or, you can keep it on the traditional breakfast route and slice it up for breakfast. Toss in some fresh fruit such as bananas, strawberries, raspberries or blueberries and you have yourself a complete meal to fuel your day.

Either way you slice it, this banana bread is sure to not disappoint. When you are making the batter, you can choose how much you would like to mush up your bananas. Since John doesn’t like bananas and I have to try to hide them as much as possible if I cook with them, I blended them pretty well as there are no banana chunks in the bread. If you are a banana fan, mix it up however you please.

 

Banana Bread with Nutella Glaze

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray and line a loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar together until light and fluffy, about a couple minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add in one egg at time, making sure to wipe down the edges between each addition. Add in the ripe bananas and vanilla extract and mix until just combined.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer speed on low, slowly add in the flour mixture to the banana mixture until the batter is just combined. Wipe down the edges to insure that it is all combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes – 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the top/center comes out clean. Allow the banana bread to cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes prior to removing.
  5. While the banana bread is cooling, pour the heavy cream into a small sauce pan over low heat. Slowly bring to a very low simmer, avoiding any boiling, and then whisk in the Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread until smooth, about a couple minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  6. Using the parchment paper liner, carefully remove the banana bread from the loaf pan. Drizzle the whole loaf with the Nutella glaze, or slice and drizzle each slice with the glaze. Enjoy!

 

 

Sweet Potato Taco Soup

Soup is good for the soul, Sweet Potato Taco Soup that is. It’s officially 2018 and winter is in full effect! With all the cold and negative temperatures going around, a big bowl of hearty, healthy soup with just the right amount of heat is needed.

I love how this soup is loaded with flavor and goodies. And guess what? It’s good for you too! Make this for an easy weeknight dinner, when you’re feeling the sniffles come on, or just when you need a hearty meal. Top it off with a dollop of sour cream, grab a bag of chips and dig in! And cheese… you always need cheese.

Simmer this soup away on the stove top, or brown the hamburger and then dump all of the ingredients into a slow cooker and let it do it’s own thing. Isn’t soup season just the best? You can clean out your refrigerator or cupboard and usually come up with a delicious concoction. This Sweet Potato Taco Soup is also perfect for meal planning! A batch can last a couple days for two people, or double it if you need to feed multiple people over a few days!

All the wonderful flavor of a taco in a bowl. What could be better?

 

Sweet Potato Taco Soup

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 7 oz can diced green chilies
  • 2 – 32oz containers chicken stock
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In the bottom of a stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the diced onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the ground beef and saute until browned, about another 5 minutes.
  2. Pour in the diced tomatoes with green chilies, diced tomatoes, green chilies and chicken stock and black beans. Stir to combine. Add in the cubed sweet potato, chili powder and chopped garlic and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat and let simmer on a low boil for 25-30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender and cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped green onions and tortilla chips.

Smoked Turkey Sausage Soup

Isn’t the time in between Christmas and New Years Eve just the weirdest? I mean, there’s all the hype from the holidays that are wearing off, leftovers taking up all your refrigerator space, Christmas decorations still up, and what kind of music are you supposed to listen to anyways? I’m a die-hard Christmas music junkie, so it’s hard to just quit cold turkey. So, let’s just ladle up ourselves a bowl of soup, snuggle up and unwind before another holiday kicks in. Let’s go with Smoked Turkey Sausage Soup.

This soup is everything that you want in a bowl to fill you from the inside out. The smoked turkey gives it a wonderful, velvety-smooth broth that is so deep in flavor that people are going to think you slaved away on it for hours. But in reality, this soup is quick and easy to throw together. Just what you need after the holiday season.

Not only is this Smoked Turkey Sausage Soup packed full of flavor, but it is also loaded with nutrients! That’s right, you have sweet potato and spinach hidden in there. No one will ever know. Ok, they might be able to see it, but it tastes like a smoked turkey sausage dream.

I highly recommend a hunk of crunchy baguette (or some crackers) and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese to go along with this warm bowl of goodness. Make that 2 or 3 pieces of bread… you just can’t go wrong with a good baguette!

 

Smoked Turkey Sausage Soup

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 13 oz smoked turkey sausage, cut into 3/4 inch rounds
  • 2 -32oz containers chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 3 1/2 cups fresh spinach
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In the bottom of a deep stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Lightly saute the onion until translucent but not browned, about a couple minutes. Add in the turkey sausage rounds and saute for a few minutes more.
  2. Pour in the chicken stock and stir to combine the onions and sausage with the stock. Add in the sweet potato, oregano, rosemary, garlic and stir to combine. Bring the soup to a low boil and let it slowly boil for about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and allow the soup to simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes. Just like any soup, the longer that it gets to simmer, the more condensed and flavorful it will be.
  3. Stir in the fresh spinach about 5 minutes prior to serving. Allowing it to wilt down. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Note: This recipe can also be made in the slow cooker. Simply combine all of the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook for desired amount of time.

White Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars

Just thinking about these White Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars makes me feel all warm and cozy inside. These cookie bars are the perfect dessert to bake away in your oven while the snow falls outside! The warm cinnamon swirled with the sweet white chocolate chips make for a perfect dessert combination.

These cookie bars are just perfect. Their gooey, cinnamon speckled, white chocolate chip loaded insides are matched with a slightly crunchy exterior provided by a cinnamon sugar dusting that caramelizes in the oven. Can you picture taking a bite of that? I certainly can!

Whip up a batch of these White Chocolate Snickerdoodle Bars for any holiday occasion, cookie swap or to just have the perfect sweet treat on hand. Not only are these cookie bars great for the holiday season, but they really could be made all year round!

Pour yourself a tall glass of milk, snuggle up on the couch with a blanket and go into cookie bar bliss with these perfectly sweet treats. Bonus: they are pretty darn hassle-free to make! I would recommend a double batch for a large crowd because they are going to go fast! 🙂

 

White Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup for dusting prior to baking
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/4 teaspoon for dusting prior to baking
  • 11 oz bag white chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about a couple minutes. Reduce the speed to low and mix in one egg at a time, making sure to wipe down the sides after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. With the mixer speed on low, slowly add in the flour mixture into the butter and sugar mixture until completely combined and a dough has formed, being careful to not over mix. Using a rubber spatula fold in the white chocolate chips until combined.
  3. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with non-stick spray and then line the bottom and sides with parchment paper (this will make for easy removal). Evenly spread the cookie dough in the prepared pan. The dough will be thick and may take a little bit to work it to the sides of the pan, but that is ok.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon until combined. Evenly sprinkle the top of the cookie dough until the whole top is covered.
  5. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly in the pan before trying to remove the cookie bars. Enjoy!

Classic Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Happy first day of Winter! This is one of my husband’s and I favorite seasons of the year, are we crazy? Oh, well! When Winter officially rolls around, all that I want is good, old-fashioned comfort food. The classics. Food you grew up eating and have so many memories with. Food that is hassle-free and brings warm and comfort to your table. Just like this Classic Slow Cooker Pot Roast. Get ready for your house to smell amazing!

As I have said before, you can never go wrong with a classic dish! Unless you just don’t like pot roast, then you could probably go wrong. But this Classic Slow Cooker Pot Roast is hard to beat! Flavorful ingredients that are prepared in a simple way make for the best, wholesome flavor.

Now, there’s two types of pot roast eaters. Those who like the mushy carrots and potatoes that are soaked in all juices from cooking with the roast all day, and those who don’t. I, unfortunately, am one who does not. I know, it’s such a controversial issue. I prefer a more fresh, roasted veggie to go along with my pot roast, so I tend to just roast some carrots and potatoes on a sheet pan about an hour before I plan on serving dinner. If you are a carrot and potato in with the roast type of person, you will notice that this recipe does not include it. Just simply add in your choice of carrots and potatoes on top of the roast and your potato, carrot and roast dreams will come true.

With the holidays just around the corner, this simple recipe can ease your mind about getting dinner on the table. Whether you’re feeding family and guests, or just trying to not eat out every night before Christmas (because who wants to do more dishes than they have to?!), this Classic Slow Cooker Pot Roast is here for you.

 

Classic Slow Cooker Pot Roast

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 4 lb chuck roast
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Directions:

  1. Place the chuck roast in the bottom of an average-size slow cooker. Pour the beef stock all around the sides of the roast. Sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly over the top of the roast. Add in the Worcestershire sauce and chopped garlic evenly over the top as well. Arrange the chopped onion and rosemary sprigs around the sides of the roast. Seal the lid of the slow cooker according to package instructions.
  2. Cook the pot roast on high for 6 hours.
  3. Before serving, ladle the sauce out of the bottom of the slow cooker into a small saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce slightly. Serve the pot roast with desired veggies and sauce poured over the top.

Mrs. Claus Cocktail

What if Mrs. Claus came to town this year instead of Santa Claus? And she brought eggnog and peppermint Schnapps with her? I think it would be a done deal! Watch out Santa, there’s a new holiday cheer in town.

I am an absolute eggnog fanatic when the holiday season rolls around. You can only get it once a year! I may or may not have just bought two more cartons of it… I can’t help it! It’s just so smooth, creamy and tastes like Christmas. That’s basically what this Mrs. Claus Cocktail is, Christmas in a cup. This is the perfect and easy cocktail to serve up this holiday season. You can go completely Christmas Vacation style and have your guests sip on this cocktail with a glass moose mug, or serve it up in any cocktail glass or old fashioned mug that you like!

Even though eggnog is so fantastic on it’s own, the addition of white chocolate liqueur and peppermint Schnapps take it to a whole other level! The white chocolate liqueur makes it even more velvety smooth and the peppermint Schnapps adds just the right amount of holiday cheer. Seriously, Christmas in a cup. You can serve this family-style and have your guests make their own, or have it all prepared for them. Heck, make it ahead of time and stash in the refrigerator until your guests get there! Add a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of crushed candy canes and you are all set to go.


Mrs. Claus doesn’t ask for cookies and milk, she wants her very own Mrs. Claus Cocktail. If you have some extra eggnog, let me know.

Note: this recipe is for one serving, or how you would prepare it in each glass individually. If you are making it for a crowd or want to serve it “family-style” simply just use this recipe as a base and adjust for how many you are serving.

 

Mrs. Claus Cocktail

serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup eggnog
  • 1 shot (3 tablespoons or 1.5 ounces) white chocolate liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon peppermint Schnapps
  • Whipped cream for garnish
  • Crushed candy canes for garnish

Directions:

  1. Pour the eggnog, white chocolate liqueur, and peppermint Schnapps into desired glass and stir to combine completely.
  2. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of crushed candy cane.
  3. Enjoy!

Ultimate Fudge Brownies

Is dessert really a dessert if it doesn’t have chocolate in it? I mean, if it doesn’t have chocolate in it, then you can justify calling it “coffee cake” or even just “breakfast.” I’m all for pie and cobbler for breakfast! I may be biased on this whole chocolate topic, because I am sipping on some chocolate milk as we speak. Let’s just talk brownies. Ultimate Fudge Brownies, that is.

Brownies are one of the most picture perfect chocolate desserts, if you ask me! When they’re still slightly warm from baking away in the oven and the chocolate melts all over your hands when you eat it, that is when you can fully enjoy a brownie. I’m still all about the crunchy edge pieces, though! These Ultimate Fudge Brownies bring home all the bacon. The fudge reaches all new levels in this decadent bite. Chocolate chips swirled and baked into a cocoa rich brownie and then topped with a fudge frosting so good you’ll be licking the spoon.

Brownies are such an awesome nostalgic treat to eat. It’s hard to find someone who has never had a brownie! Whether it’s just because or for a special occasion or holiday, these Ultimate Fudge Brownies will be gone before you know it. You can top them off with a scoop of ice cream to make your own little sundae, or nibble on these in the middle of the night when no one is looking.

Bake up a batch of these brownies to see what the ultimate fudge is all about. Has anyone ever regretted eating a brownie? Maybe two or three? 🙂

 

Ultimate Fudge Brownies

 

Ingredients:

For the brownie batter:

  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the fudge frosting:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about a couple minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add in one egg at a time, making sure to mix thoroughly between each addition and wiping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the vanilla.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the flour mixture into the butter and sugars until a dough forms and the ingredients are combined. Stir in the 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips. The batter will be thick.
  3. Spray and line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper. Spread the batter evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 35-38 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes.
  4. To make the fudge frosting, bring the heavy cream to a very low simmer in a small saucepan. Whisk in the dark chocolate chips and mini marshmallows and continue to whisk until the mixture is melted together and smooth, about 3-5 minutes. Be careful to not let the mixture boil.
  5. Pour the fudge frosting over the top of the slightly cooled brownies and spread to all the edges to cover evenly. Let the frosting set for 10-15 minutes prior to cutting. Enjoy!

How to have a Cozy Christmas Morning

If you know me, I am just absolutely in love with the holidays. Yes, that may sound oh-so basic, but I love the family, friends, food, warmth, laughter, and all the good feels it brings! Gathering around with loved ones is one of my favorite things to do, especially when there is yummy food involved! Christmas morning is no exception to that. So let’s grab a blanket, put on our fuzzy socks and make it a Cozy Christmas Morning.

Ever since John and I got married, we started to realize the importance of making Christmas morning special. We were no longer with our families right away and had each other to spend the morning with. Here’s a few ways how we make our Christmas morning special and cozy:

Take it slow, Snuggle often, Savor the time

We are always so used to getting up and hitting the ground running right away in the morning, so it is nice to have a morning to just savor the time together and snuggle our sweet pups. Even if you are single or don’t have furry pups to snuggle, just take a few extra minutes to relax and savor a few more minutes snuggled up under the covers! It won’t be wasted time. Especially if it’s cold outside – getting out from under the covers is just so hard!

Eat Breakfast in Bed

You are never too old to eat breakfast in bed. There’s just something so fun about being able to make a quick dash to the kitchen, load up with goodies and sneak back under the covers before all the heat escapes. Here’s a couple of our favorite drinks and breakfast treats to enjoy in the morning:

Espresso Hot Chocolate

Baked Churro Donuts with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Make Your Own Traditions

As I was mentioning earlier, we realized that once we were married we had the chance to make our own Christmas traditions! Don’t worry, we are still hanging onto all the ones that we have with our families, but it has been so special and fun to start our own. Even if it is something so small, make it yours. Married or not, you can do it. One way that we have started our own tradition is to make and give each other stockings on Christmas morning. They don’t have to be full of anything spectacular or expensive, and that is what makes them so fun and casual.

Wear Comfy Clothes!

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it really does make a difference! If you’re anything like me, you are so much more yourself when you are comfortable in what you are wearing. If you are into the matching pajama thing, do it! Otherwise, I think its fun to pick out something cozy to wear, even if it is just a new pair of socks or some comfy sweats! Here is what we love this year:

Kate’s sweater / Kate’s pj pants / Kate’s socks / John’s long sleeve / John’s sweat pants / John’s socks

PS: you can never go wrong with a good ol’ Christmas scented candle either!

Details:

Headboard / Night stand / Bedding / Bedroom lamp / Knit Blanket / Mugs / Serving tray / Tree / Basket / Gold Christmas trees / Couch / Coffee table / RugWooden ladder / Candle

Peppermint Fudge Cookies

We are full-throttle into holiday baking season and these Peppermint Fudge Cookies are at the top of the nice list this year! Are you looking for the perfect cookie to put on your cookie platter this year? Take these to any cookie swap, Christmas party, or just bake them up for yourself and you will be the star on top of the tree.

These cookies are the perfect combination of fudgy chocolate and sweet peppermint. Take one bite of these and you will be sledding through fields of gumdrops and candy cane trees! Maybe not quite that extreme, but you get what I’m saying. They are packed full of holiday flavor.

Not only will these cookies be the perfect recipe to add to your holiday baking this year, but they are also painless to make! Drizzle some melted white chocolate on them after they come out of the oven, dust the tops with crushed candy canes and then try to not eat them all before someone else gets one. Set these cookies out for Santa this year and he may just stay the night.

Preheat your oven, turn on some Christmas music and get these Peppermint Fudge Cookies baking away in your oven!

 

Peppermint Fudge Cookies

makes 23 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 10 oz dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips, melted for garnish
  • Crushed candy canes for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about a couple minutes. With the speed on low, add in one egg at a time, mixing thoroughly after each egg addition and wiping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix in the vanilla and peppermint extracts.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined. Fold in the dark chocolate chips with a rubber spatula. The batter may be thick and slightly sticky and that is ok.
  3. Scoop rounded tablespoons of cookie dough onto a non-greased cookie sheet. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, being careful to not overcook. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat until all of the cookies are baked.
  4. Drizzle the cookies with the melted white chocolate and top with crushed candy canes.

Espresso Hot Chocolate

Happy National Hot Cocoa Day! Could this quite possibly be one of the greatest days of the year? Yes, indeed. Especially if you have a mug of this Espresso Hot Chocolate in hand!


A day centered around warm, liquid chocolate in a cute little mug is a good day in my books. This Espresso Hot Chocolate is a fun twist on the classic favorite. Go ahead and put those packets of cocoa mix back in the cupboard, because you won’t be needing them anymore!

Do you want to know what is so great about this hot chocolate recipe? Not only is it hot chocolate, but it has a full serving of espresso in it to get your coffee fix! That’s right, you could drink this for your coffee in the morning and have it be completely justifiable. That is basically winning at life.

Mug / Scarf / String Lights

Cozy up with your jammies and your slippers, fill your mug full with this Espresso Hot Chocolate, dollop some whipped cream on top and sip your way into chocolate bliss. Talk about a drink that would be perfect for Christmas morning!

 

Espresso Hot Chocolate

makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • Whipped cream for topping

Directions:

  1. In a small sauce pan over low heat, bring the milk to a very low simmer. Whisk in the chocolate chips, cocoa powder and espresso powder. Avoid boiling. Whisk until smooth and frothy, about a couple minutes.
  2. Pour into desired mugs and top with a dollop of whipped cream and a pinch of additional espresso powder.

Classic Chicken Pot Pie

It finally snowed today and I squealed like a little girl and ran outside, bare feet and all, as fast as I could. I absolutely love Winter! I know, I know, I’m the crazy lady over here, but it is one of my favorite times of the year! You better believe my cozy level meter went all the way to ten! Time to dig into this Classic Chicken Pot Pie, because you can’t go wrong with classic comfort food.

You can’t ever go wrong with classic comfort food, if you ask me. And to me, classic comfort food should be served family-style and be hassle-free. That’s right! Just dig on into this pie plate of wonder. Am I the only weird person who not only loves Winter, but also serves their chicken pot pie in a bowl? Let’s just be logical and talk about convenience here. Give me a spoon and I’ll chow down.

 

Set aside all the comfort and joy that this dish brings and let’s talk about how simple it is to make! This dish is so versatile in regards to how you can take convenient shortcuts to make getting dinner on the table a little bit easier, or how you can go all-in chef mode and make everything from scratch. That’s right. You choose how simple or how diverse you want it to be. You can make dough from scratch, or use store-bought pie crust (this is what I did!!). You can use a rotisserie chicken, or roast your own. See how you can adapt this recipe? You’ve got this.

Turn on the Christmas movie marathons, light your spruce candle, and get this heart-warming Classic Chicken Pot Pie in the oven!

 

Classic Chicken Pot Pie

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs cooked chicken, shredded or roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 standard size pie crusts
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the onion and saute until translucent and avoiding browning, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour until a paste forms, then whisk in the heavy cream. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and combined. Reduce the heat to low.
  2. Whisk in the chicken stock, milk, garlic, carrots, thyme, oregano, rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a simmer and whisk occasionally until it thickens slightly, about 5-8 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chicken and peas and let the mixture return to a low simmer and thicken slightly again. Using a standard pie plate, form one of the pie crust rounds to the bottom of the pie plate and up the sides. Pour the chicken pot pie filling on top of the bottom pie crust. Top the filling with the remaining pie crust and crimp the edges of the two pie crusts together to insure that the filling does not cook out the sides. Using a knife, cut 1-inch slits on the top of the crust in the middle of the pie to allow air to escape, but not cutting too far in to spill the filling on top of the crust.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and the water to make an egg wash. lightly brush the top of the pot pie crust with the egg wash to insure a brown crust. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let the pot pie sit for 10-15 minutes prior to serving to allow it to cool slightly and for the pot pie to set and not run.

 

Rocky Road Cookies

Happy National Cookie Day! As cliche as this sounds, I totally did not even plan this out! I guess just making cookies on a whim and it happens to be National Cookie Day is just a gift. I’ll take it. It is cookie season, after all! My husband is a big time rocky road fanatic (like rocky road everything), so I knew I needed to create a cookie just for him. Rocky Road Cookies are ready to rock and roll!

These cookies all the perfect amounts of fudgy, to nutty, to creamy from the marshmallow topping. Dip one of these delicious Rocky Road Cookies into a tall glass of milk and you won’t be disappointed!

I was so excited when these little beauties came out of the oven, it was hard to let them cool enough to eat! Topping the cookies off with some mini mallows is a fun, little touch to set these cookies apart from any average joe. These cookies would be the perfect, chocolate touch to any Christmas cookie exchange. You can never go wrong with chocolate!

These Rocky Road Cookies are the perfect thing to bake away in your oven while you dance around listening to Christmas music, or while watching Home Alone for the first time (no judgement – I’d seen the second one but not the first!).

 

Rocky Road Cookies

makes 20 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, such as walnuts or almonds
  • Mini marshmallows for topping, about 5 per cookie

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium speed. Reduce the speed to low and add in one egg at a time, making sure to scrape down the edges of the bowl in between each addition. Add in the vanilla extract.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until completely combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts.
  3. Scoop rounded tablespoons of the cookie dough onto a non-greased cookie sheet. Spacing each one a couple inches apart. Bake the cookies for 5 minutes and then remove from the oven. Quickly top each cookie with about 5 mini marshmallows, and gently press them in to prevent from rolling off the cookie. Return the cookies back to the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until the cookies are cooked through and the marshmallows are melted and slightly golden.
  4. Remove the cookies from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!

 

Santa’s Sleigh Cocktail

Wohoo! Happy December, everyone! Is anyone else as excited about the Christmas season as I am? I mean, it’s like full on Buddy the Elf type of situation. I just love it!

It’s just crazy that it is already December to me. Nebraska needs to get with the program, because it is going to be almost 60 degrees today! Call me crazy, but I am so ready for a nice, big snow storm. Yep, I’m crazy, but I love it! You better believe everyone will know my excitement when it finally snows and sticks to the ground.

With Christmas and holiday parties right around the corner, you need a good, easy, and fun cocktail to make everyone feel nice and warm inside! When I took my first sip of this Santa’s Sleigh Cocktail, I texted my husband and was like no way! I actually made a cocktail that I liked and it wasn’t a sangria! I was just pleasantly surprised. This Santa baby is so smooth it’s criminal. Trust me, you won’t even taste the alcohol in it! This could be a good or a bad thing…

What I love so much about drinks like this Santa’s Sleigh, besides how amazing it goes down, is that it is completely hassle free. All you have to do is pour all the ingredients into a pot or slow cooker and bring it up slowly to a nice and warm temperature. Your guests can ladle their own mug of Santa’s Sleigh, top it however they please and be ho, ho, ho happy. You don’t even have to bat an eye or break a sweat. PS: you can also make this in advance and reheat it for the next several days. Bonus points if you have Santa’s Sleigh stocked in your refrigerator.

This smooth, warm, mug of a cocktail will make you feel all the warm and fuzzies inside and get everyone around you in the Christmas spirit.

 

Santa’s Sleigh Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 gallon chocolate milk
  • 1 cup Kahlua
  • 3/4 cup peppermint Schnapps

Topping Ideas:

  • Marshmallows
  • Melted Chocolate
  • Sprinkles
  • Candy Canes
  • Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Pour all of the ingredients into a large pot over low heat. Slowly bring the cocktail to a warm temperature, avoiding any boiling or simmering. Serve warm with delicious topping ideas.

2017 Swimsuit Recap

I am not a swimsuit-picture-posting person. Heck, taking a selfie is hard enough! So why am I doing a whole post about swimsuits? I used to cringe at the thought of having to wear one. Bikini season was not my thing – give me all the yoga pants and chunky sweaters please! I am not an itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-yellow-polka-dot-bikini wearing girl, but here I am, going 150% out of my comfort zone to share with you how I became confident and comfortable wearing a swimsuit.


It’s nothing fancy, high-tech or Pinterest-worthy. I just simply ditched the bikini and never looked back. Before we go any farther, I am in now way shaming bikinis or bikini-wearing gals. This is just purely my personal choice and I have no problem with them, but I will share with you how awesome it made me feel to leave them behind! It was like a huge weight was lifted when the thought of not having to put on a bikini came to mind. Summer, swimsuit season and bikinis have become SO high maintenance with our culture. I kept feeling dogged down about not having a “bikini body”, but what in the world is that anyways? Our culture tells us its skinny, tan, smooth, the right things rounded and firm and other places flat and doesn’t jiggle when you laugh. Yeah, that’s pretty high maintenance to me! I’d rather be real, healthy, active and eat cake.

To me, finding the right swimsuits to make me feel comfortable, confident and sexy just had to happen. And guess what? It made my husband more comfortable too! Not showing everything off actually made me feel more attractive. My husband noticed my confidence.  Funny how it works that way, huh? I’m not trying to be the modesty police, but I think it shows character and respect for your spouse. A little bit can go a long ways!

Ok, so enough of the all the words, here’s what I found and what I loved!

PS: This is not a sponsored post for any of these brands and all the words are my honest opinion :).

I know we are heading straight into Winter and the holidays, but travel/vacation season is right around the corner and Summer will be here before we know it!

Kortni Jeane 

I found Kortni Jeane Swimmers on Instagram and immediately fell in love. She has such an awesome motto for creating her swimmers and there are so many options for every body type! You can mix and match and create your own swimsuit to fit your style. They even have maternity, kids, tweens, and mens swimmers! It’s a win for the whole family during any stage of life. They have great full-bum coverage and are swimsuits that you can feel amazing in, even in front of your neighbors or grandma!

 

Shop Ashley LeMieux 

If you know me, you know I absolutely love all the clothing options from Shop Ashley LeMieux and what Ashley stands for. Needless to say, her swimsuits did not disappoint! She provided cute, fun and modest swim options. It is a seasonal item on her site, so when they go live grab yours quick before they’re gone! I got so many compliments on this swimsuit and it is definitely one of my favorites.

 

Aerie

I love everything that the Aerie brand stands for. It promotes women and girls to be real and untouched, and that is just what we need! They have a lot of great one-piece swimsuit options for a great price. You do have to watch the bum or front exposure on these, though, as some of them are deep-plunging or more of a cheeky fit. Plus, there are so many American Eagle/Aerie stores around that you could even try one on before purchasing!

 

We all have beautiful bodies and I hope that you too can be comfortable and confident in a swimsuit! I’m not saying that I always am or that I don’t struggle with self-image, but let’s keep reminding each other that we are fearfully and wonderfully made!

 

Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yesterday was totally one of those days where everything didn’t go according to plan or how I thought things would turn out. I never burn dinner, and I burned dinner. Kraft macaroni and cheese ended up saving us from driving into town for Chick-Fil-A or Chipotle, but sometimes that’s just how life goes and it’s ok! What also made it ok was that I had these Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies to secretly munch on in the dark kitchen before going to bed. Cookies always save the day.

Isn’t it crazy that we are almost to December, which means Christmas is right around the corner?! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I absolutely love Christmas, gathering with family, eating and baking yummy goodies, Christmas music blaring and snuggling up with the pups by the Christmas tree. Totally typical, but SO good. What comes along with Christmas? CHRISTMAS COOKIES. These Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies are a fun and delicious spin on the classic chocolate chipper! Trust me, they are more simple to make than you think. Pour yourself a tall glass of milk, because you have some cookies to eat.

What is also so great about these cookies is that they can be made year-round. They aren’t stuck in your Christmas cookie arsenal and make a delicious treat or secret nibble before going to bed. Raise of hands who can relate to sneaking a cookie out of the bag on the counter before jumping into bed? You just gotta!

Preheat your oven and get these cookies baking away this Christmas season! Trust me, they will be fast going in any Christmas cookie exchange. Or just eating them by yourself. Either way, these little babies are good.

 

Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

makes 14 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 14 soft caramels, unwrapped

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and the sugars together until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Slowly add in the eggs one at a time, making sure to wipe down the edges in between each addition. Add in the vanilla and mix until combined.
  2. With the mixer speed on low, slowly add in the flour mixture to the eggs and butter until a dough forms. Add in the chocolate chips and mix until just combined, being careful to not over-mix the dough. Refrigerate and chill the dough for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  4. To form the cookies, scoop rounded tablespoons of dough onto a non-greased cookie sheet, about 2-3 inches apart (I could fit 6 on my standard size baking sheet). Lightly press a caramel into the center of each cookie dough ball to fit the caramel in and slightly flatten the dough. Top each caramel with another tablespoon scoop of cookie dough, making sure to press down slightly (but not flatten) so that the caramel is completely covered with dough and it won’t bake out the sides. Continue this process until all the cookies are formed.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the cookies are slightly golden brown and cooked through. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes after taking them out of the oven before transferring them to a plate or rack to cool as you will want the caramels to set slightly before moving.

 

Set Your Thanksgiving Table Without Breaking The Bank

If you’re anything like me, setting the table is the last thing on your mind on Thanksgiving Day. You have a turkey roasting away in the oven and taking up way too much room, potatoes simmering in a big pot of water on the stovetop and the peels coating your kitchen sink from your over-zealous attempt to get the potatoes in the pot as fast as you can, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade blaring away in the background to take up any brain space that you may have had left. Setting the Thanksgiving Table? Nah, not even close to being on my mind.

Cardigan / Shirt / Jeans

I knew that if I was going to conquer setting the table this year for our Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving, I would need to make it simple and to the point. When you’re basting your perfectly golden brown turkey, you don’t need to be shuffling plates around, ironing a tablecloth and folding napkins.

I like to use simple pieces that are hassle-free, but still have my personality and touch. I love white whites, black blacks, and colorful colors, so that is what I went for.

So, here are a few of my tips to pull of a beautiful, yet inexpensive way to set your Thanksgiving Table. Hence, “How to Set Your Thanksgiving Table without Breaking the Bank.” Because if you are again like me, I would rather spend my money on food. Pass that gravy!

 

How to Set Your Thanksgiving Table without Breaking the Bank

 

Paper Plates and Plastic Silverware: I will stand by this and say it time and time again, paper plates and plastic silverware are KEY. If I’ve been on my feet cooking all day and smiling through all of the wonderful Thanksgiving madness, the last thing I want to do is the dishes, and I don’t want to make my guests do them either. You can find so many cute, sturdy, non-plastic looking items these day that you don’t even have to worry about it looking cheesy!

Dinner Plates / Silverware / Napkins / Dessert Plates

Mason Jars: Did you know that you can buy a flat of 12 mason jars for like $8? That’s right! About the same price you would pay on all those Red Solo Cups that get tossed in the trash. Mason jars are so fun and add a nice touch to the table. Helps keep it classy that you actually have glassware on the table. Bonus: you can re-use them! I loving using mason jars to serve cocktails, smoothies or any beverage in. They even work great as flower vases too. Tie little gift tags around them with your guest’s name so they can re-use their jar while they are there!

Mason jars / Name tags.

Real Plants/Pumpkins: I love the touch that flowers, pumpkins or greenery add to a table. It makes it feel more homey and down-to-earth to me. You can usually buy a bouquet of flowers at your local grocery store for around $10, and guess what? I got these pumpkins for $1 a piece! Look for them at your local grocery store, farmers market, or home and garden store.

Simple Statement Piece and Table Runner: I will occasionally put a tablecloth down, but when I know it is a holiday centered around food, eating and cranberry sauce, I’m going to keep that tablecloth folded and tucked away. A table runner is a perfect substitute in my book. They can add the perfect amount of texture or pattern that you desire. I snagged this one for $19.99 and I can use it all year round due to its simple pattern and colors. Choose something you absolutely love and gotta-have and make that your center piece. I instantly fell in love with this vase and it was in my cart before I could think twice. It isn’t anything frilly or over-the-top, but with a simple bouquet of flowers, it makes the table come to life.

Green Pitcher / Table runner sold out online: Similar placemats

Candles: Candles are usually fairly priced and add a wonderful charm factor to your table. I found these cute pumpkin jar candles in the clearance section and they were a match made in heaven. Plus, the scent is called “Friendsgiving” and it couldn’t be more perfect (and it smells AMAZING).

Friendsgiving Candle

My last little tidbit of advance for setting your Thanksgiving table without breaking the bank: go shopping AFTER Halloween! Seriously, stores are rolling in all the Christmas goodies by then and want to move the Fall/Thanksgiving items along. Items are typically discounted and you score big time!

Table / Wooden Chairs / Padded Chairs

 

Apple Berry Crisp

I still can’t believe that Thanksgiving is already less than two weeks away! All the Christmas decor is out in stores already and I am making myself hold off until Thanksgiving comes through. It’s hard to resist! Just like this Apple Berry Crisp is hard to resist! I may have already eaten most of it myself…

If you are looking for the perfect dessert this holiday season that is hassle-free and delicious, look no further! This Apple Berry Crisp could even take the place of a pie this year on your table. Let’s face it, making a pie can be somewhat of a daunting task (although well worth it), but this Apple Berry Crisp can come to your rescue any day. Toss the ingredients together, tuck it away in a warm oven, forget about it for an hour or so and then you are all set to scoop some vanilla ice cream on top and pass the plates around.

A bonus to go along side this delicious and simple dessert is that your house will smell amazing. Queue all of the Fall and holiday candle smells and you didn’t even have to light a single one of them. This can also be made in advance and reheated prior to serving. Piece of cake. I think it makes an excellent leftover breakfast option as well.

The topping is always one of the best parts. It gets all sorts of the good kind of crunchy and almost forms a cookie-like crust. Break that puppy open to reveal ooey-gooey goodness inside.

 

Apple Berry Crisp

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 6 oz fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the filling and toss to coat and combine. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients for the topping. Using either a pastry cutter, fork, or your hands, combine the butter into the dry ingredients until a course, pebble-like consistency forms. It should be able to mold together if squeezed in your hand.
  3. Using a 9-inch pie plate, pour the filling ingredients into the bottom and spread to an even layer. Pour the topping on top of the filling and spread in an even layer as well. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the topping is slightly browned and the filling is gooey and cooked through.

 

Wilted Kale Salad

We’re back from vacation and ready to rock and roll through this work week! Even with his broken leg, the hubs is ready to take it on. Since John broke his right leg on our first day in Hawaii, I have become the designated driver until he gets his cast off (4-6 weeks to go!). Yep, that’s right. My schedule is going to adjust to match his and where he needs to go, he may not be able to do as much housework as normal and the holiday extravaganzas are about to start. But you know what, that’s ok! Yes it’s a total bummer that he broke his leg on vacation, but we laughed about it and are looking at this as a time to slow down even more, spend time serving each other in different ways than normal and to soak in the time we get to spend together.

Since he broke his leg on our Hawaiian vacation, we weren’t able to do as many of the activities that we hoped to do. Which was ok, because we spent that time eating delicious food! Instead of burning the calories, we were intaking them :). Vacation is such a wonderful time to adventure, try new foods and totally indulge yourself. We bank on it every time. That means it’s time to get back on track and fuel our bodies with healthy, powerful and vitamin-rich goodies to keep us going strong. This Wilted Kale Salad does just the trick.

I absolutely love this Wilted Kale Salad and it is one of my go-to ways to serve up kale. Its healthy and delicious, so what more could you ask for? I can even get John to gobble down some kale with this scrumptious recipe! Another amazing thing about it, it is simple ingredients cooked in a quick and simple way to get a flavorful dish.

This wonderful Wilted Kale Salad can be eaten as is on it’s own with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, served as a side dish to any weeknight dinner or holiday meal, topped with protein such as chicken, shrimp, steak or tofu to be a complete meal, or eaten as a quick and healthy lunch to keep you going. Whip it up and be ready to eat in under 20 minutes!

 

Wilted Kale Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 small/medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 10 oz chopped kale
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Shaved Parmesan for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add in the red onions and saute until translucent and slightly caramelized about 5-8 minutes, avoiding any burning. Add in the honey and white balsamic vinegar and saute and stir to combine.
  2. Add the chopped kale to the skillet, pour the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the top and stir to combine the kale with the red onions, honey and white balsamic vinegar. Saute for several minutes or until the kale is just slightly wilted and starting to cook. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Serve warm immediately with Parmesan shavings on top.

 

Pumpkin Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

The fact that its November already is just mind blowing to me! Maybe its the fact that we are in Hawaii with a high of 90 degrees and missed the first snow back home that we were actually bummed about…we’re crazy, right?

We’re the crazy Nebraskans missing Fall back home and have already eaten all the pumpkin bread that our local Starbucks in Hawaii had to offer. We’re loving Hawaii, don’t get me wrong, but we will be ready to put on our stretchy pants and dig into the holiday season. These Pumpkin Pecan Rolls will take you there real quick! The perfect amount of pumpkin swirled with sweet cinnamon and crunchy pecans. It’s a match made for each other.

These Pumpkin Pecan Rolls are perfect for any holiday brunch, weekend breakfast or weekday treat to get your day started. Wouldn’t they just be perfect for Thanksgiving morning as you’re basting your turkey to golden perfection? I think so! You know what I’ll be snacking on. That and coffee. You need to have your coffee.

Cinnamon rolls can be daunting to make, but do not fret over these Pumpkin Pecan Rolls! Just give yourself an adequate amount of time and you are all set to go. Bake these up this Fall and Winter and your house will smell magical and your tummy will be pleased.

 

Pumpkin Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

makes about 8 rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, lightly whisk together the yeast, 1 tablespoon of sugar and warm water to activate the yeast. Set aside. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, warm the milk and 1 stick of butter until the butter is completely melted, careful to not boil. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1/2 cup sugar and salt until combined. Slowly whisk in the cooled butter and milk mixture until combined with the eggs. Add in the yeast mixture until just combined and then fold in the flour until a sticky dough forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm area (stovetop or window in the sun) to let the dough rise for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Generously flour your working surface and rolling pin. Roll the dough out into a 1/4 inch rectangle, flouring the surface, dough and rolling pin as needed. The dough may be slightly sticky. Melt the remaining 1 stick of butter and lightly spread a thin layer on top of the dough, using only about 1/4 of the melted butter. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup sugar on top of the butter and follow it with the cinnamon on top of it. Gently spread the pumpkin puree over the top of the cinnamon and sugar.
  4. Pour the remaining melted butter into the bottom of a 13×9 baking pan. Mix it with the brown sugar and chopped pecans and spread it in an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Starting at one end of the dough rectangle, roll the dough up into a log, making sure that the filling does not come out. Use flour as needed. Cut the log into 8 equal rolls and place them on top of the butter pecan mixture in the baking pan. Since the rolls will be flipped at the end, put the top side of the rolls down first.
  6. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let rise for 20-30 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on top and cooked through in the centers.
  7. Immediately flip the rolls onto a baking sheet after removing from the oven, being careful of the pecan mixture as it will be hot. Remove the baking pan after the rolls are flipped and let cool slightly prior to serving. The rolls can be made in advance and reheated to serve.

Seared Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce

We ate so much wonderful salmon down in Hawaii that we just can’t get over it. It was so fresh, buttery and scrumptious that we were eating any chance we got! To say the least, this Seared Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce is here to the rescue to curb our cravings!

The sauce truly is the boss in this dish. I could just eat it by the spoonful! John and I ate this one night for dinner, and then turned around and made it with my parents the next night. We have now been comparing every fish dish to this and simply saying: “It needs the sauce.” My family has always been big fish eaters since my Grandpa and Dad have been big into fishing up in Lake Michigan every year. Whether it be salmon, cod or rainbow trout, this sauce will rock every single one of them!

Want to know what else is so fantastic about this dish? It can be ready in 30 minutes! It is perfect for a quick and healthy weeknight dinner, or you can even serve it up to feed a fancy dinner crowd. Either way, every last bite will be eaten and you have a crowd-pleasing meal that didn’t bust the bank or the clock.

Serve this Seared Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce with a side of my Wilted Kale Salad for a super immune boosting meal and an easy way to have a vitamin-packed dinner in under 30 minutes! If you serve this with potatoes, rice, couscous, bread, green beans, broccoli, or really anything else, just do yourself a favor and pour the sauce over your whole plate. You’re welcome.

 

Seared Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 – 5 oz salmon filets with skin
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Season both sides of the salmon filets with salt and pepper. Sear the salmon skin side down first for about 5-7 minutes, or until a golden brown crust starts to form.
  2. Carefully flip the salmon filets away from you to avoid any oil splatter. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until the inside reaches desired doneness.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour until a pasty roux is created. Whisk in the heavy cream and bring the mixture to a low simmer. Whisk in the dill, lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue to cook on a very low simmer (avoiding any boiling) until the mixture thickens, about a couple minutes.
  4. Serve the salmon filets immediately with the creamy dill sauce and fresh dill as a garnish.

Nut Butter Breakfast Smoothies

One of my main staples when I run to the grocery store is to stock up on granola bars as John and I are huge fans of a “grab-and-go” breakfast. A brand that is always tossed into my grocery cart is Kashi and their scrumptious granola bar options. We have always had our favorite kinds that we would each grab in the morning with the exception of John reaching for one of mine when he ate through all of his too fast. So, to say that I was excited when Kashi sent me all their new Chewy Nut Butter Bars for free to try out and experiment with is a huge understatement. I immediately snatched one out of each box to sample and ended up eating the whole darn bar each time. They are just THAT good.

If you are anything like me, breakfast is not on the forefront of your mind (with the exception of coffee) and a granola bar or handheld snack is what you fall back on when you are scampering to get out of the door. I get it. It can be a lot of work to whip up a delicious, healthy and satisfying breakfast without making a huge mess in your kitchen. Let these Nut Butter Breakfast Smoothies come to your rescue.

You know what is so great about these Nut Butter Breakfast Smoothies? Besides featuring a different kind of Chewy Nut Butter Bar in each smoothie, they are quick, simple and made with ingredients that you would have on hand in your pantry and refrigerator. Its the popular, trending and healthy thing to load your smoothies up with nuts, granolas, seeds, protein, fiber and all sorts of other goodies that it can make your head spin. Let’s be honest here: it can be pricey, time consuming, space consuming and somewhat of a headache to stay stocked up on all of these items to toss into a smoothie. Your solution: Kashi Chewy Nut Butter Bars! That’s right, these bars are already stocked with all these wholesome goodies and they are waiting for you in your cupboard to fuel your next smoothie. Hassle-free and you don’t have to worry about a short expiration date!

Blend these smoothies up to jumpstart your day and have a breakfast or snack that is packed full of good-for-you nutrients. A smoothie a day keeps the doctor away, right? I think it’s close enough.

 

Pumpkin Almond Snickerdoodle Smoothie

makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and desired consistency is reached.
  2. Top your smoothie with melted almond butter, crushed almonds or cinnamon and enjoy.

Tropical Cashew Coconut Smoothie

makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth or desired consistency is acquired. More or less soy milk may be added to achieve this.
  2. Top your smoothie with coconut flakes, melted cashew butter, toasted cashews, or fresh mango and enjoy.

Blueberry Almond Trail Mix Smoothie

makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth or desired consistency is achieved.
  2. Top your smoothie with melted almond butter, fresh blueberries, chopped dark chocolate, or assorted nuts and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

4 Comfy Fall Dress Ideas

Once Fall rolls around, you better believe that I will just be sporting my yoga pants, sweats and the most fabulous one-size-fits-all pants whenever I can. I’m all about comfort, warmth and ease when it comes to my wardrobe and I can’t wait for the seasons to change when I get to put away my shorts and don’t have to worry about my legs getting stuck on the seat from the Summer heat. Anyone else with me? I wear dresses all Summer long, but stock them away once the weather starts to change. By golly, I’m going to try to change that! I challenged myself to put together a handful of comfortable dress options that I can wear throughout the Fall without getting too chilly or sacrificing comfort. Here you go – it’s all I’ve got.

Long Sleeve T-Shirt Dress

Everything about t-shirt dresses are just wonderful. I mean, it’s a t-shirt…that is a dress. Perfection. Toss in some long sleeves and you’ve got me sold. A chunky scarf and some booties help this dress scream “Fall” and all you need is a pumpkin spice latte in hand to be on point.

Sweater Dress

A sweater in a dress form is right up there with the t-shirt dress. They are so warm and cozy that you are just walking around with your arms through a blanket. So, basically a Snuggie that is socially acceptable and considered cute. Toss on some tall boots or over-the-knee boots to help keep your legs warm and you are all set. If the temps drop even more, you can throw on a pair of leggings underneath this dress and be on your way.

Chunky Cardigan + Dress

This combo is probably one of the most easy ways to take your summer or short sleeve dresses into the cooler seasons. Toss on any comfy and cuddly cardigan, a pair of booties and snuggle on up into comfort.

Long Sleeve Maxi Dress

Talk about an all-in-one package. You have a dress that can be casual or dressed up for all the holiday parties you are invited to. Long sleeves, a long dress to cover your unshaved legs and all in one piece. This dress is unfortunately sold out, but where I purchased it has plenty of maxi dress options! Hop on over to Ashley LeMieux to see what you can find.

 

Chocolate Espresso Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this Chocolate Espresso Cream Cheese Bundt Cake! I bought my first bundt cake pan this year (crazy, right?!) and I couldn’t wait to bake one up!

The flavor profile of this Chocolate Espresso Cream Cheese Bundt Cake is inspired by my Mom’s decadent Layered Mocha Cheesecake that she typically only makes around the holiday and Christmas season. The Oreo cookie crust, layers of chocolate cheesecake and coffee cheesecake are topped off with a chocolate ganache it is just love at first bite. Whip all those ingredients up with a scrumptious chocolate cake and that is what this bundt cake is all about! Don’t be frightened by having an espresso cream cheese filling in this bundt cake as it is easy to accomplish if you just keep the filling from touching any sides of the bundt pan. Trust me, it happened a couple times to me and the filling just oozes out! Once you get a spoonful/forkful of this Chocolate Espresso Cream Cheese Bundt Cake there will be no turning back!

Is there anything better than chocolate, espresso cream cheese, Oreo cookies and a dark chocolate ganache? I can’t think of much! One thing that is so awesome about bundt cakes is how user-friendly they are. I accidentally let my bundt cake sit too long in the pan after taking it out of the oven (it was about 30 minutes) and a thin layer of the top of the cake stuck to the pan when I turned it out. But by golly, you can just cover that top with ganache and Oreos and no one will ever know. Truth is, this recipe took me 5 different times of making it to perfect it. FIVE. If you have ever seen the movie Julie & Julia, the scene where Julie is laying on the floor sobbing with a raw chicken and stuffing all around her because she couldn’t even truss a chicken is a pretty accurate scene of what it felt like when the cake kept turning out too dry, too dense, or too thin. Now there was no sobbing, physical crying or laying on the floor involved, but you know what I mean! (Insert laughing/crying face emoji) Sometimes life just happens and your cake doesn’t turn out.

But boy, oh boy was this recipe worth it! All the ingredients combine to create the perfect slice of bundt cake and it’s like my little baby bundt cake recipe that I will treasure forever and ever. The whole family got invested in this venture as five different cakes were made in one week and everyone was trying it, critiquing it, complimenting it and finally savoring and craving every bite. The constant grocery trips to restock on ingredients may have gotten a little old (I am now well-stocked on enough cream cheese to carry me to Thanksgiving), but when this puppy comes out of the oven all you have is “ooo’s” and “ahhhh’s”.

This Chocolate Espresso Cream Cheese Bundt Cake is perfect for any occasion. Weeknight/weekend baking, birthdays, holidays, parties or just to have a bundt cake to snack on at midnight when you just can’t resist taking a bite. I may or may not be guilty of this. Just take a look at this bundt cake, how could you not resist?!

Disclaimer: please don’t be alarmed by it taking me 5 times to perfect it. The recipe testing process was SO worth it to have a scrumptious bundt cake turn out. You can totally do this!

 

Chocolate Espresso Cream Cheese Bundt Cake 

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

For the filling:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 teaspoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 Oreo cookies

For the topping:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped Oreo cookies

Directions:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons espresso powder and hot water until combined. Set aside to cool. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about a couple minutes. Turn the speed to low and add in one egg at a time, making sure that the egg is completely combined before adding another one. Add in the heavy cream and vanilla and mix until just combined.
  3. With the speed still on low, add in the flour mixture and the cocoa mixture alternatively into the butter mixture until all of the ingredients are combined. Do this in about three different batches of alternating dry and wet ingredients into the butter mixture. Scrap down the edges and bottom of the bowl to make sure all of the ingredients are combined.

For the filling:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the espresso powder and water to activate the espresso powder. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, about a couple minutes. Add in the flour and mix until combined. Add in the egg, vanilla and espresso mixture and beat until all of the ingredients are combined and smooth.

Assemble & Bake:

  1. In a sprayed bundt pan, start by pouring half of the cake batter evenly into the bottom of the pan. Using a 1 tablespoon scoop or a spoon, scoop the cream cheese filling into the center of the bundt cake, making sure that you don’t let the filling touch either sides of the bundt cake pan. Smooth the cream cheese filling into an even layer.
  2. Gently lay the 8 Oreo cookings on top of the cream cheese filling in the center of the cake. Pour the remaining cake batter over the top of the Oreos and cream cheese filling in an even layer, making sure that no cookies or filling is showing.
  3. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean. If the top looks slightly underdone, that is ok. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning it. Turn it out onto desired surface to cool completely.

For the topping:

  1. 15 minutes prior to serving, bring the heavy cream to a very low simmer over low heat. Whisk in the dark chocolate chips until a smooth ganache forms. Remove from the heat immediately and pour the ganache over the top of the bundt cake, letting it cascade down the sides. Top with the chopped Oreo cookies and let the ganache set and cool slightly before serving.

 

 

 

Loaded Breakfast Sweet Potatoes

Come one, come all, because Loaded Breakfast Sweet Potatoes are here to call you out of bed! Let’s just take a minute to soak this in. Loaded Breakfast Sweet Potatoes. It’s really happening! Your new favorite breakfast is a spin off of a classic loaded baked potato, but packed with all things delicious and healthy to help fuel your day!

These Loaded Breakfast Sweet Potatoes are so fun because they can be so versatile! Feel free to load them up with any of your favorite toppings. Canadian bacon, ham, hollandaise sauce, poached eggs, veggies, sour cream or anything else that your heart so desires. I went ahead with the classic sunny-side-up egg because it is just hard to beat! The drippy and drool-worthy yolk tie it all together like a perfect little breakfast package. If you choose to go with a scrambled egg or no egg at all, I would recommend having some sort of sauce or sour cream to hit the ball out of the park. I also cooked bacon today for this recipe and I think my husband about had a heart attack. He is a bacon-lover and I don’t like the way it stinks up the house even if you have your overhead vent on high. Needless to say, I took a shower afterwards.

This recipe can be made for weekday breakfasts to start your day, or for brunch to feed a crowd. Have fun with the toppings and set up a breakfast sweet potato bar where everyone can stuff, top and drizzle their sweet potato however they please. The sweet potatoes can be baked in advance and re-heated prior to serving, so this would be a perfect meal-prep breakfast or way to be ready to have the family over for brunch!

Be careful when you’re pitting the avocado, though, because I was careless and the knife ran straight down the side of my finger. A lot of Despicable Me bandaids were needed but it is on the mend.

We are re-heating these tonight to have breakfast for dinner (brinner) and we couldn’t be happier.

 

Loaded Breakfast Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, rinsed and patted dry
  • 12 oz bag frozen corn
  • 4 strips of bacon, fried/cooked to your liking and roughly chopped (more can be made if you would prefer more than 1 strip of bacon per potato)
  • 4 eggs cooked sunny-side up (or however you desire)
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut open a large slit on each sweet potato running the long ways from one end to the other of the sweet potato. Place the sweet potatoes in a 9×13 pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked all the way through and soft. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  2. When there is 15 minutes left of the sweet potatoes cooking, spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and evenly layer the frozen corn on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the corn with salt and pepper and bake until slightly roasted and cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  3. Using two forks, gently pull away the sweet potato skins where you made the slits to begin with. You want to widen the opening so that you can have room to top and load your sweet potato. Use the forks to fluff the inside of the sweet potato. Continue this process on each sweet potato.
  4. Start topping your sweet potato and load it up with the roasted corn, chopped bacon, sliced avocado and sunny-side up egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper and enjoy!

 

 

Harvest Berry Sangria

Have you noticed that 99.9 % of my drinks and cocktails are sangrias? Oh well! A girl needs to do what a girl needs to do! Sangria is always my first go-to when I even consider whipping up a cocktail at home. I love the simplicity and ease of how you can just dump everything in a pitcher, stir it up and you are all set to go. This Harvest Berry Sangria highlights all the wonderful flavors going on around us right now. Fresh picked apples, crisp and bright pears, juicy blackberries and a hint of basil make this sangria a Fall delight.

When I was growing up, I would always choose to draw a pear when our art teacher told us to draw a piece of fruit. I don’t know why I couldn’t choose something normal like an apple, but I guess I just needed to be that much extra. Have you ever drawn a pear? SO much better than drawing an apple. Don’t worry, I’ve always been a little weird. Point of the story being: pears are much more enjoyable to draw than apples. Sometimes life just goes that way.

This Harvest Berry Sangria is perfect for this time of year! Whip up a batch, let it cool in the refrigerator, pour some glasses of sangria and then you have a happy crowd around you. If you are not a fan of the taste of basil, it can easily be subbed out for an herb of your choice (maybe rosemary or thyme), or left out completely. Be careful when you are muddling the blackberries, though, because they can be quite juicy and stain your clothes or towels if your not careful! I may or may not be speaking from experience.

Another great quality about this sangria recipe is that it can be made up to a day or two in advance to serving. When all the ingredients get to sit together, it just makes it even better!

 

Harvest Berry Sangria

 

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz blackberries
  • 1 large Gala apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 green Bartlet pear, thinly sliced (try to not use a ripened one as it will disintegrate)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh basil
  • 1 bottle Moscato wine
  • 2 cups lemon-lime soda
  • 3/4 cup pear vodka

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, muddle half of the blackberries with the chopped basil. A back of a spoon can be used to do this. Muddle until there are no large chunks of blackberries. Strain the mixture to get rid of any blackberry seeds and set aside.
  2. In the bottom of a large pitcher, combine the apple, pear, fresh blackberries and the muddled blackberries. Pour in the Moscato, lemon-lime soda and pear vodka. Stir gently to combine.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to a day in advance prior to serving. If you are going to wait awhile to serve the sangria, add the lemon-lime soda just prior to serving to maintain the fizz aspect of the sangria.

Hashbrown Crusted Quiche

If you are looking for a perfect, delicious breakfast or brunch recipe to have on hand, then you are in the right spot! Sometimes you just need to have a good quiche baking away in the oven to serve up for breakfast instead of having to crack open and cook a dozen eggs to order. A quiche is such a simple way to please everyone and feed a crowd! Or just yourself, because leftovers are definitely welcomed here!

This quiche bakes up nice and fluffy in the oven and doesn’t mind being reheated. I love the addition of fresh broccoli as it lightens the dish and brings a good brightness. You want to know what is so great about quiches? They are SO versatile! Add in some ham, bacon, peppers or anything else that your heart desires and you still have a great meal! It even has a hashbrown crust so you really can’t go wrong. Who doesn’t love hashbrowns? If you don’t, then we need to have a talk.

This quiche recipe can carry you through any time of year, occasion, holiday or surprise brunch that you have to host. Whip it up, put it in the oven and let it do it’s thing. Little work for delicious results!

PS: double this recipe to fit into a 9×13 pan and feed even more people!

 

Hashbrown Crusted Quiche

 

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz frozen hashbrowns (you can buy 16 oz bags and use half)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, in small pieces, about 1 head of broccoli
  • 1/3 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray and evenly line the hashbrowns on the bottom of the plate and up the sides to create a crust. Bake the hashbrowns for 20-25 minutes or until slightly golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and sprinkle lightly with salt.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, monterey jack cheese and heavy cream. Stir in the broccoli florets and season with salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the hashbrowns and sprinkle the top with the asiago cheese.
  3. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the quiche is fluffy and cooked.

 

Butternut Squash Noodle Stir Fry

With my mom having grown a plethora of butternut squash in her garden this year (over 100 of them!), we just needed to get some spiralized! The butternut squash curls into the most perfect noodles and coils to take the place of any regular pasta. They are just too fun! Toss them together with some fresh veggies, plump shrimp and a homemade sesame sauce and you have a winner of a stir fry dish.

The vibrant colors and fresh flavors of this dish can’t be beat. You won’t even miss having real noodles! The butternut squash noodles have a hearty texture that will leave you full and satisfied, yet feeling like you just ate a spinach and kale salad. But you didn’t just eat  a spinach and kale salad, you had butternut squash, crispy snap peas, vibrant bell peppers and protein-packed shrimp tossed together with a noteworthy sauce.

Not only is this dish healthy and colorful, but it is so tasty that you can have your family and friends gobbling it up in front of you! And to make it even better, this stir fry can be ready to go in 30 minutes. Talk about a great weeknight meal to toss together! But wait, there’s more. Because the butternut squash is so hearty, this meal stands up so well to being kept in the refrigerator for a couple days and reheated. Saute up a batch of this butternut squash noodle stir fry and have the perfect meal prep for the rest of the week!

This stir fry dish is perfect for a quick weeknight meal, a healthy lunch idea, or a meal prep option to get you through the week. Spiralizing is a fun task to do, so have your kiddos, family or friends help you out to make it go even quicker! If you don’t have access to a spiralizer or good butternut squash, you can find pre-spiralized butternut squash noodles in most grocery stores these days.

 

Butternut Squash Noodle Stir Fry 

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash peeled and with the bulb/bowl end of the squash set aside for another use (you will only be able to spiralize the “neck” of the squash)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 8 oz snap peas
  • 16 oz raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Directions:

  1. Spiralize the butternut squash using the smaller noodle setting on the spiralizer. You can use the large noodle setting, but will need to adjust the cooking time of the noodles as they will take longer to cook.
  2. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in the shrimp and cook until they are just cooked through and turn pink, about a couple minutes on each side. Season the shrimp lightly with salt and pepper and remove from the pan for later use.
  3. Add the butternut squash noodles to the pan and saute them for 3-5 minutes, or until they just start to cook through. Add in the snap peas and red bell peppers and saute for several minutes more, or until the peppers start to become softer.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the hoisin, soy sauce, garlic, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes and honey until combined. Pour the sauce over the butternut squash noodles and veggies in the saute pan and toss to coat. Add the shrimp back into the pan and toss again to combine. Cover the stir fry with a lid to steam the noodles for a few minutes. Remove the lid and serve the stir fry when the butternut squash noodles have reached desired texture. If you prefer them to be less crunchy and more soft, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue the saute process until they reach a firmness you desire.

Baked Churro Donuts with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Oh my goodness gracious. I don’t think I am ever going to get over these Baked Churro Donuts! And a Dark Chocolate Ganache?! It’s a match made in churro heaven! A fluffy, cinnamon donut dusted in sweet, cinnamon sugar and drizzled with a dark chocolate ganache. Take a bite, close your eyes and savor the moments of eating this treat!

Just thinking about these make me giddy. Unfortunately, we ate the last ones last night and are already going through withdrawals from them! I have never been a huge donut person primarily due to the fact that if I was going to eat something that rich and indulgent,  I’d rather have a piece of cake. But, these baked donuts are game changer! Since they’re baked rather than fried, you don’t feel as guilty about eating one or two. You don’t have to worry, though, because these are certainly not lacking in any richness or flavor just because they are baked instead of fried!

When I was up in Ann Arbor, Michigan for a food photography workshop earlier this year hosted by Sarah from Broma Bakery, she took us all out to a local restaurant up there called Aventura and they served us some epically good, classic churros with a chocolate dipping sauce and a caramel dipping sauce. I raved all about them to my husband and he was all sorts of jelly about it. Driving in the car the other day it hit me like a sack of potatoes, I needed a churro with a dreamy chocolate sauce. I knew right then and there that I was going to make a churro donut and it is all of my churro dreams come true!

Not only are these Baked Churro Donuts scrumptious and delicious, but they come together in a breeze! You don’t have to worry about heating up any oil, frying dough, or making your house smell greasy. You can bake these up for a sweet treat breakfast, a mid-day nibble, or a decadent dessert. Either way, your house will smell sweet and warm from the cinnamon and sugar.

The dark chocolate ganache can be drizzled on top of and coat each donut, or it can be served as a dipping sauce. Either way, it is a must-have! Dark chocolate and cinnamon dance perfectly together.

 

Baked Churro Donuts with Dark Chocolate Ganache 

Makes 8 donuts

Ingredients:

For the donuts:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the cinnamon sugar coating:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2/3 cups sugar

For the dark chocolate ganache:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients for the donuts until combined. This mixture will include the flour, cinnamon, sugar, salt and baking powder. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients for the donuts until combined. This mixture will include the eggs, heavy cream, butter and vanilla.
  2. Slowly combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients for the donuts and mix until combined. Using a piping bag or a plastic food storage bag with a corner cut off, pipe the donut batter into a sprayed donut pan, filling each donut 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a donut comes out clean and the tops start to turn a golden brown. Flip the donuts out on a cooling rack to cool slightly.
  3. While the donuts are baking, prepare the cinnamon sugar coating by putting the melted butter on one small plate and the cinnamon and sugar on another small plate. Stir together the cinnamon and sugar to evenly combine. Once the donuts are cool enough to touch, work with one donut at a time to coat. Lightly coat the donut in the melted butter (wherever there is butter the cinnamon sugar will stick!) and then toss in the cinnamon sugar and place back on a cooling rack or plate. Continue until all donuts are coated.
  4. For the dark chocolate ganache, bring the heavy cream to a very low simmer over low heat in a small saucepan. Whisk in the dark chocolate chips and continue to whisk until smooth and glossy, about a few minutes. Serve the churro donuts with the dark chocolate ganache drizzled over the top or served as a dipping sauce.

Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Wedges

Nothing beats being able to toss everything for dinner in the oven, let it roast away and not have to worry about the fuss or hassle to get it on the table. These Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Wedges fit that bill and are packed full of flavor! They make your house smell amazingly sweet and delicious as they roast away in the oven and the brown sugar starts to caramelize all around them. What’s not to love? And you get the health benefits from the sweet potato! It really is a win-win situation.

No frills or anything fancy here, but honest, delicious and healthy food to set on your table. These Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Wedges are the perfect companion to any of your weeknight dinner entrees, holiday meals, or family get-togethers. I paired them with my Lemon Herb Butter Roasted Chicken and it was a match made in heaven.