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Pizza Pinwheels

Have you hopped on the Greek yogyurt band wagon yet? You’ve at least heard about it, I’m sure. Greek yogurt is great. It’s great for you, and packed with protein. Did you know that in roughly the same amount of calories, Greek yogurt is able to pack up to double the protein, while cutting sugar content by half? No? See, this is one of the major reasons that within the past couple years, Greek yogurt has managed to elbow it’s way onto refrigerator shelves everywhere. If you’re wondering what makes it different, besides just the nutrition info, from it’s ‘regular’ counterpart, the Mediterranean version has been strained of it’s whey giving it an undeniably tangier and less sweet, as well as creamier, taste. We’ve gone exclusively Greek in the yogurt department. But we haven’t stopped there. Greek yogurt opens up tons of options in the recipe department. We love swapping it for sour cream in recipes, and even for cream cheese and mayonnaise. There is so much untapped potential there. Chobani has even created a handy conversion chart so there’s no guess work involved.

chobani conversion chart

When I was contacted by them a few weeks ago, I knew it wasn’t going to be a chore to come up with something snazzy to share with you guys that featured Chobani’s Greek Yogurt. Without further adieu, we’re bringing you these Pizza Pinwheels that are #madewithChobani.

 Pizza Pinwheels

Pinwheels are a great option for a variety of needs. Lunches? Check. A denser snack? Check. An alternative to your traditional pizza night? Check. Initially, the sons were suspicious. One bite was enough to woo them though. The seasonings are perfect. The creamy yogurt pairs perfectly with some of our favorite fixings, packing more protein into every bite while leaving the extra calories behind.

Pizza Pinwheels

Pizza Pinwheels 2

4 ounces fat free cream cheese, softened
1/4-1/3 cup plain Chobani Greek yogurt
2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup diced black olives
1/4 cup diced green, red, or yellow peppers
1/2 cup pepperoni
3 medium tortilla shells

Directions

1. In a small bowl, add the cream cheese, yogurt, oregano, and garlic powder. Stir until everything is evenly incorporated and the mixture’s nice and creamy. Next, stir in the cheeses. Using a knife or spatula, gently spread the cheese mixture evenly ever the flat tortilla shells. 2. Once you’ve spread your cheese mixture out, evenly sprinkle the olives and peppers over the cheese mixture. Finally, create a layer of pepperoni over the sprinkled toppings on each tortilla. Gently roll the tortillas up tightly (like a jelly roll), making sure everything stays inside. Wrap the tortilla roll up in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 3. Remove from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap. Cut each tortilla into roughly 8 pinwheels. Serve with toothpicks if desired. Makes roughly 24 pinwheels.

*Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post, and all opinions expressed are my own.*

Thai Peanut Pork Tenderloin

Thai food rocks the hubs world. I kid you not, the hubs could eat it every single day, for any meal, and be quite a happy camper. I am not nearly the fan that he is. I remember struggling through menus trying to find something that appealed to my pallet as he took me to various Thai dives when we were dating. Luckily, the company made it all worth it! That and there was always something I could find to enjoy. The real problem for me was the over abundance of peanuts. Peanuts and pork. Two seemingly totally different flavors that blend flawlessly in this recipe, and many another Thai dish. Here the tenderloin is taken to the next scrumptious level with the help of some peanut sauce. Go to your local grocery store right now, and I promise you its ethnic section (even the smallest) has Thai peanut sauce, probably even a Thai AND American made version. The stuff just seems to get more and more popular as time goes by. This key ingredient doesn’t disappoint even in our quick, from scratch batch.

 Thai Peanut Pork Tenderloin

Thai. Peanut. Pork. Tenderloin. Let’s let that sink in for a moment. And let’s take another look at these pictures. Not the best staged photos, but still mouth-watering. Drool-worthy really.

(Go ahead, lick the screen. Nobody’s watching)

Thai Peanut Pork Tenderloin

Thai Peanut Pork Tenderloin 2

recipe adapted from Let’s Dish

1 (1.5 lb) pork tenderloin
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp lime, or lemon, juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Directions

1. In a small bowl combine marmalade, garlic, coriander, cumin, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, peanut butter, lime juice, orange juice, crushed red pepper and black pepper. Whisk the ingredients together until evenly incorporated.
2. Season the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper and place it in gallon sized zip-locking plastic bag. Carefully, add in the marinade, and then gently squeeze the excess air out of the bag before sealing it shut.
3. Refrigerate and let the meat  marinade for at least 30 minutes, or for as long as 8 hours.
4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large oven-proof skillet (like cast iron or even a dutch oven) over medium-high heat, until the oil is shimmering.
5. Add the pork tenderloin, and sear on all sides, until it’s nicely browned, about 8-10 minutes total. Place the entire skillet into the preheated oven, and cook at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees. Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.
6. While the pork is in the oven cooking, pour the marinade out of the plastic bag and into a small saucepan. Add in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water.
7. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
8. Slice the tenderloin and pour the sauce over top. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro for garnish, if desired.

Sweet Italian Sausage Soup with Kale

It seemed like there was this annoying, persistent cough that ran through our whole household. It also liked to linger, taking each person about two weeks to get over. After numerous doctors visits, we learned to ignore it since they assured us it was nothing over and over again. So two weeks ago when I started coughing I didn’t really think anything of it. Even when I started having issues with a lot of muscus. Thought nothing of it. Probably a bad case of bronchitis and I put myself on a self-prescribed regimen of mucinex, pseudophed, and copious amounts of Vitamin C which seemed to help at first. But I just couldn’t shake it, even after a week of heavy meds, sleep, and all my usual go-to remedies. I was tired all the time. Just sitting up was exhausting. Breathing? If that didn’t send me into a convulsive coughing fit, it too was excruciatingly tiring. I just wanted to sleep. And sleep. And sleep some more. I could have slept forever. But, after two weeks of trudging along the worst seemed to be over. Yea, I was still tired all the time and still coughing, but it did seem a bit better. Then I woke up with this persistent pain in my back that continued to get worse over a 48 hour period. All signs pointed to a kidney infection, so I finished work and then bundled up and headed off to the ER on a Friday night. 6 hours and 5 prescriptions later, I was diagnosed with pneumonia. Well … that escalated quickly. The kids seemed to think I was on vacation and not sick leave trying to recover. Out of pity, and because it was the only thing I thought I could stomach, I made one big pot of soup to last through the weekend. You wanted something else, I hope you know where the kitchen is because I thought this Italian sausage soup sounded perfect. Perfect for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner.

 Sweet Italian Sausage Soup with Kale

Don’t let the word soup fool you though, sick or not. This is a complete meal in a bowl and kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around, high in vitamins K, A and C with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. I was probably a tad bit heavy handed with the kale on this batch, but that’s where all the nutrients are and I was trying to stop that crud in it’s tracks.

This is also a ‘rough’ soup, so there was no need to feel the pressures of perfection. Which was good, because those veggies weren’t going to chop themselves and the precision required to give them a polished look might have cost me a finger at that point. It’s a rustic soup, and whenever you hear the word ‘rustic’ you’ve got my permission to hack away at the veggies. Relieve some stress. Take out your problems and frustration on the onion and carrots. Let them know you won’t take it lying down. Well, actually you probably will, because when you’ve got pneumonia, making a big pot of whoop-ass in your dutch oven will (not-surprisingly) sap the last reserves of your strength, but you get the gist.

Have you had Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana? This is the worldly Zuppa’s cousin visiting from it’s cabin in the woods. Heartier, healthier, and still just as flavorful. Whether you’re sick or not, this recipe serves up a heaping bowl of (guilt-free) comfort.

Sweet Italian Sausage Soup with Kale

Sweet Italian Sausage Soup with Kale

recipe adapted from The Housewife In Training Files

1 1/2 lbs sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
1 onion, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
6 cups beef broth
3 cups chopped kale, stems removed

Directions

1. In a dutch oven, or other large pot, add the Italian sausage and sauté until no longer pink. Drain, and return to the pan. Add in the onions, peppers and garlic. Cooking until just softened.
2. Add in the seasonings, tomato paste, diced tomatoes (with juice), broth and kale.
3. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 15 – 20 minutes to meld flavors. Ladle into bowls and serve. Add a sprinkle of cheese if desired.

Banana Berry Breakfast Bake

How’s that for alliteration? Betcha can’t say that 5 times fast. Good thing it’s easier to throw together than it is to enunciate! I used to be able to get the sons’ to gobble up some oatmeal at breakfast time. Now, they take one look at it and you’d think I served them gruel. Well, I guess technically speaking I did, BUT we’re not in any kind of feudal conservation mode so it’s not a thin, runny mess and it’s usually pleasantly seasoned. Anyway, I blame the hubs for this irritating breakfast expectation since he’s spoils us all with 5 star, 4 course brunches on the weekends. He says he’s making up for all the cereal, fruit, and yogurt (grab and go style) breakfasts we eat during the week since I don’t ‘do’ breakfast. Sorry (not really), but I’d rather conserve my gusto, my get-up-and-go, for lunch and dinner. Still, every now and then I get an itch to do breakfast for actual breakfast, not for dinner, and surprise the hell out of everyone. Gotta keep em on their toes and all. This was my latest expedition into AM meal territory. Think oatmeal 2.0, or some equally revamped sounding name. The hubs has taken to calling it oatmeal pie (in his best Cartman from South Park accent) mostly just to annoy me, but if the name fits…

Oats done right with fresh strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and a hint of chocolate. What meal isn’t made better with the addition of chocolate?! Enjoy a healthy start to your day that’s full of nutrients and ready to keep you fueled til lunchtime, that’s scrumptious enough remind you of dessert.

Banana Berry Breakfast Bake

 Berry Banana Oatmeal Bake

 2 cups oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ cup chocolate chips
1 cup strawberries
2/3 cup blueberries
1 ripe banana
2 cups milk
1 large egg
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

1. Spray a 8×8 casserole dish generously with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, mix oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, half the chocolate chips, & half the berries. Stir until evenly incorporated and pour into the prepared casserole dish. 3. Sprinkle the other half of the berries & chocolate chips on top of the mixture. Then, slice the banana & add to top.
4. In a separate bowl, combine milk, egg, butter, & vanilla. Whisk thoroughly. Pour this over top of the oatmeal mixture, making sure the all oats are soaked evenly.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Then, remove the casserole from the oven and sprinkle a tablespoon of brown sugar over the top of the casserole for added sweetness. The extra sugar is optional. Bake for an additional 5 or 10 minutes or until the top of the casserole is golden brown.

French Onion Soup Stuffed Au Gratin Meatloaf

In our home, meatloaf is and has always been a stand-out family fav. Usually, I just make my Grandma’s meatloaf. It’s simple, no-fuss, no-frills, but it’s the best meatloaf I’ve ever tasted. It’s a relatively short list of ingredients, and it’s fairly simple to throw together, but whenever I’m asked for the recipe I have to explain that there actually isn’t one.

Do you have any idea how long it took for me to learn how to make my Grandma’s meatloaf?! There was no. recipe. This meant that any time I wanted to make meatloaf, or she was making up a batch for the freezer, I would pack up my Costco-sized packages of ground beef, and the other ingredients I needed, and go over to her house and stand in the kitchen for hours watching her ‘eyeball’ ingredients as she casually threw everything together into a giant bowl. The only part I was allowed to partici[pate in was getting my hands dirty and smooshing ans squishing everything together. I was an excellent meatloaf masher ;)

After several months of ‘eyeballing’ she must have seen something that told her I was ready for the next step. The next meatloaf day I showed up energized, packing my lean ground beef, and ready to finally give it a go. This lasted through like two ingredients before she ended up taking over and just doing it herself. She said it was easier. This happened every time. Every. time. Do you have any idea how frustrating this was? Yes, I’d end up taking home several great meatloafs, but I couldn’t make them at my own house or by myself. It was beyond me (and totally out of my comfort zone at the time) to experiment by throwing various amounts of food stuffs into a bowl full of hamburger meat and hoping for the best, or knowing when to add more liquidy stuffs and when you needed more dry crap. I thought it was hopeless, and resigned myself to my Grandma making, or taking over making, my meatloaves for the rest of my life. But, Grandma’s been gone for almost 6 years now and it turns out, that unbeknownst to me, she knew what she was doing. Even without a recipe, I can whip up a kick ass meatloaf, and I cherish all those memories of us in her kitchen that I might not have had as an adult without all our meatloaf days. Somewhere along the way, I observed enough to interpret and absorb her secret meatloaf makin’ ways :)

While Grandma’s meatloaf will always be our  ‘put-up-on-a-pedestal’ favorite, we do enjoy trying other versions, especially ones that incorporate some of our favorite flavor combos. I like to think Grandma would be proud of our ingenuity and of pushing the recipe boundaries– something that would have been way out of her much more traditional kitchen comfort zone ;) We’ve enjoyed bacon cheeseburger meatloaf, Mexican meatloaf, and even several Chicken versions. This recipe here though, is one of our most often enjoyed variations.

 French Onion Soup Stuffed Au Gratin Meatloaf

Think of your favorite meatloaf, then imagine that stuffed with your favorite french onion soup. And cheese. CHEESE! In our defense we usually stuff ours with mozzarella, but here Swiss is the perfect companion to the tender caramelized onions tucked up in our savory, prepared ground beef. This gourmet version is sure to wow the socks off of the family, and is a perfect option for those night’s when company’s coming.

French Onion Soup Stuffed Au Gratin Meatloaf

French Onion Soup Au Gratin Stuffed Meatloaf

recipe adapted from Cupcakes & Kalechips

For the onions:
1 tbsp olive oil
3 medium-large onions, halved & thinly sliced
½ tbsp fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried thyme
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ cup beef broth
¼ cup red wine, or red cooking wine
For the meatloaf:
2 lbs lean ground beef
½ cup bread crumbs or quick cooking, ground oats
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups mozzarella, or Swiss, cheese, shredded, divided
For the sauce:
2½ cups beef broth
½ cup red wine, or red cooking wine
3 tbsp cornstarch
salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

For the onions:
1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium. When the oil’s hot add in the onions, salt, and pepper and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently until they’ve caramelized.
2. Next, add the thyme and sauté for a minute or two, then add in the wine and beef broth.
3. Give everything a stir, and allow to continue cooking while the liquid reduces, until very little liquid remains in the skillet. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the meatloaf:
1. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, bread crumbs or oats, parsley, pepper, salt, and eggs. Using your hands (you can wear latex gloves if you’re squeamish) squish everything together until evenly incorporated.
2. Lay the meat mixture out onto a piece of wax paper and press it out into a roughly 10×12-inch rectangle.
3. Set aside ½ cup of the cheese and ½ cup of the onions. Sprinkle the remaining 1½ cups cheese and onions evenly over the ground beef. Roll up like a jelly roll, starting from the short end, lifting the wax paper or plastic wrap as you roll. Seal the end completely, and place the loaf seam-side down into a 9×13-inch baking pan.
4. Place the meatloaf in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. While the meatloaf is baking, prepare the sauce. For the sauce: Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small pot, bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside
5. Remove the pan from the oven, pour the prepared sauce over the meatloaf, and sprinkle the top with the reserved onions and cheese.
7. Return the meatloaf to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until the meat is no longer pink on the inside. Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese on top is browned and bubbly.
8. Remove from oven and allow to stand 10 minutes. Slice and serve. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.

Baked Chili Lime Nacho Mozzarella Sticks

These make a perfect appetizer or (in the sons case) an after school pick me up. They have an awesome chip-like exterior courtesy of the baked egg roll wrappers, and they’re oozing, gooey, melted mozzarella from their middles. Thought nachos couldn’t get any better? Did you think a plain, fried mozzarella stick was where it was at? This fun, easy hybrid is going to take your tastes buds to a whole new world of flavor.

Chili Lime Nacho Mozzarella Sticks

 Baked Chili Lime Nacho Mozzarella Sticks

recipe originally from Carl’s Bad Cravings

24 mozzarella sticks
24 egg roll wrappers
1/4 cup water (you won’t use it all)

Chili Lime Olive Oil

1 tbsp lime juice
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Directions

1. Freeze unwrapped mozzarella sticks for 90 minutes.
2. Whisk together the Chili Lime Olive Oil ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Working with one at a time, place a mozzarella stick diagonally in the bottom third of the egg roll wrapper. Brush the edges of the wrapper with water. Fold the bottom of the wrapper up tightly over the cheese, then proceed to roll the up the cheese, folding in the edges of the wrapper as you roll. You want the edges to be tightly sealed so the cheese doesn’t spill out when cooked. Take care not to tear the wrapper. If you’re confused, no worries! The egg roll wrapper packaging should have pictures demonstrating the steps in order.
4. Place the wrapped mozzarella sticks on a baking rack on a foil lined baking sheet. Brush wrapped mozzarella sticks with the Chili Lime Olive Oil, stirring to make sure you get the spices that have settled. Note that the mixture will thicken as flour from the wrappers deposits into the oil.
5. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Broil for 3-5 minutes, or until golden, then flip mozzarella sticks and continue to broil until other side is golden.
6. Serve with your favorite salsa and enjoy!

The Tooth Fairy Door

A few weeks ago son # 4 lost his first tooth. He got them all early, so I wasn’t at all surprised that he’d lose them early-ish too.

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 Two days after he first noticed one of his front teeth was loose, he bit into an apple and that was all she wrote. Tooth down! Repeat: TOOTH. DOWN. Once the blood had stopped, and the crocodile tears of terror had dried up, he was able to embrace his new smile and the funny feeling hole.

It was at this point that Son # 4 first learned about the tooth fairy. The magical little lady, pixie, we couldn’t settle on exactly what she was, but what was important was that she trades in teeth. Somewhere during our talk, the son wondered how exactly she was going to get into our home, and into his room, to sneak his tooth out from under him. And this is when we got out the tooth fairy door. The magic little portal that would grant her access to our world and the sons’ room. Made total sense to him.

tooth fairy door

We set up his ninja turtle nightlight to guard the door and make sure the tooth fairy wasn’t disturbed. We even found a trail of glitter the next morning marking her trail. Best of all? She’d taken his tooth and left a whole dollar bill! (This is the tooth fairy people, not the Nobel peace prize. We try to keep it realistic around here. After your first tooth, you only get a quarter for each one after. And the sons are perfectly content. They’re not suffering.)

I figure that fairy doors are more than just adorable accents for children. They’re for parents, too. After all, if your child still believes in fairies, they’re not growing up too fast, no matter how many baby teeth they lose and when, right? After all this is our youngest. The last one. I’m going to savor all of these final firsts. I mean how long is he going to keep letting me call him my honeynugget whenever, wherever. How much longer will he still insist on giving me a hug, a kiss, and a smug every night before bed? And how long until he’s grown and has lost this innocence that enables him to believe in wonderful things like magic and tooth fairies?! We’re already onto loose tooth # 2 …

Back to the tooth fairy door. It couldn’t be any simpler. It’s just a doll house door (you can find that at any craft store) that we painted. We used a LEGO piece for our door handle, but you can buy an actual doll house door knob from the craft store too for a more polished look. If you’ve ever seen any of the sons’ rooms after a single afternoon, you’ll know why I was ok with ours being a little ‘rough around the edges’. The sons helped me slap some paint on the trim and the door, and within 30 minutes we were ready to roll.

Something so simple, and so cheap, yet so magical to our little guy.

Well, maybe not as magical as the $1 he found under his pillow the next morning. And maybe not even as magical as the chocolate covered doughnut with sprinkles it bought him. But, still magical. ;)

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