Watermelon Slush

I have a problem. It’s a serious problem. There are days & times when I feel like it’s taking over my life. What is this problem you ask? I’m addicted to taking pictures of my kids. Seriously. Obsessed. I have memory cards upon memory cards full of their fresh little faces. My living room is flooded with photo albums, cataloging their accomplishments, their firsts, and everything in between. My walls are littered with my favorite shots of them. I just can’t help myself. What can I say? They’re my life’s work. That being said, there is one simple shot I have to get ever single summer.

July 4th 2009 (56)

Every summer, I have to snap a pic of each boy relishing in a slice of watermelon as it’s glorious juices run down their little cheeks and chins. There’s nothing better on a hot summer day to quench their thirst, and the look of pure joy on their faces just melts my heart. It’s their warm weather ambrosia. Knowing their infatuation with the stuff, it was inevitable that I’d try to branch out and see what I could come up with to do something a little ‘different’ with their favorite summer staple.  Aaaaaand, watermelon slushies it was!

This frosty treat makes a refreshing ending to any summer meal. Simply scoop the slushy mixture into bowls or tall glasses and enjoy a refreshing dessert, all while still getting that melon flavor fix, albeit without all the dripping. Add a splash of vodka for an even sweeter summer adult beverage.

Watermelon Slush

Watermelon Slush

4 cups frozen watermelon cubes
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2-1 cup water
1 tbsp sugar, optional

Directions

1. Cube watermelon and freeze on a metal cookie sheet. Remove the frozen cubes from the cookie sheet and put them into a ziploc-ing freezer bag to store in the freezer.
2. Remove 4 cups of watermelon cubes and place in a blender. Add in the lime juice, 1/2 cup water, and sugar, if using. Blend until desired consistency. Add more water if needed.
3. Pour into two glasses and, if you’re feelin’ fancy, garnish each glass with a slice of lime!

(  And don’t worry, I’ve already made sure to get in my fresh melon pictures for the summer! 😉  )

Healthy Applesauce & Oat Muffins

Despite what my blog full of decadent desserts and copious comfort food recipes might suggest, we’re actually pretty healthy eaters. I mean, sure, I love a good breakfast pastry, a dreamy creamy (I meant creamy) bowl of macaroni & cheese, or even a thick slice of loaded beer bread on occasion, but most of the time… we keep it pretty healthy. In order to keep breakfast a relatively healthy affair, and let’s be honest with our oldest out the door around 5:15 for JV football practice, we don’t have a whole lot of time to be cooking in the AM hours, I try to keep healthy, grab-and-go options on hand. That’s where these little beauties come into play.

A great wholesome applesauce oatmeal muffin that’s delicious, nutritious and low in fat. They’re perfect for breakfast on the go or as a lunch-time treat. The hubs & son # 1 take one of these (or another protein inclusive muffin) and 2 hard boiled eggs for breakfast on their ways to work/football practice. Even with son 1’s grueling practice regime it keeps him fueled. Seriously, these hearty muffins will fill you up with fiber and flavor instead of fat. Who wouldn’t want that?

We love these as is, but I have to be honest, warm out of the oven with a big ol’ pat of butter on em, these are pretty dang amazing. Everything in moderation, right? 😉

Healthy Applesauce & Oat Muffins

 Healthy Applesauce & Oat Muffins

1 3/4 cups all purpose, or whole wheat, flour
1 cup quick cooking oats*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup coconut oil, melted
2 eggs
1/4 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
1 cup chunky or home-style unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*To make your own quick cooking oats from rolled outs, place rolled oats into the food processor and pulse 4-5 times until they are coarsely chopped but not powdery. Cutting them makes them faster to cook, but do only those few pulses or the oats will turn to mush when cooked.

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. Set aside.
2. In another bowl, cream together sugar and oil by hand.
3. Add in eggs one at a time and mix well. Stir in yogurt, applesauce and vanilla until well incorporated.
4. Gradually add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Do not over mix.
5. Drop muffin liners into muffin pan, and then fill 3/4 full with the batter. Bake at 425 for 3 minutes, and then turn the oven to 350 and bake for an additional 17-18 minutes. The muffins are done when a toothpick comes out with crumbs on it. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool.

Looking for more healthy recipes? 

4 Sons 'R' Us: Healthy Chocolate Fudge

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

4 Sons 'R' Us: chocolate peanut butter protein shake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake 

4 Sons 'R' Us: Healthy Peach 'Milkshakes'

Healthy Peach ‘Milkshakes’ 

Frozen Hot Chocolate

It’s famous, it’s infamous, it’s notorious. It has destroyed diets and led to love affairs from just a sip of it’s creamy, dreamy, icy blend of chocolatey goodness. Just one sip will make you want to blow bubbles through your straw like a child again. Never had a sip of Serendipity’s Frozen Hot Chocolate? You have got to find out what you’ve been missing!! And now, there’s no need to plan a trip all the way to NYC just for one glorious taste test. Hot Chocolate has always been a Winter weather staple for the sons, but now their minds have officially been blown.  Hot chocolate flavor served up icy cold! It’s the perfect summer pick-me-up  for a 90 degree day or any day really!

Frozen Hot Chocolate

 Frozen Hot Chocolate

1/2 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips, or 4 oz. chocolate
2 tsp. hot cocoa mix
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups milk, divided
3 cups ice cubes
sweetened whipped cream
chocolate sprinkles, optional

Directions

1. Chop chocolate into small pieces and melt in a glass container in microwave for 10-20 second intervals until melted.
2. Add in hot cocoa mix and sugar to melted chocolate. Mix until blended.
3. Add in 1/2 C milk, stir until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature
4. In blender, place remaining milk, cooled chocolate mixture and ice cubes
5. Blend on high speed until smooth and consistency of a frozen daiquiri
6. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream and sprinkles.

Strawberry Bread with a Strawberry Cream Cheese Glaze

Umm banana bread what?!

Look out kids there is a new snack food on the block and its kicking that old fashioned banana bread to the curb!

Boom.

The old timer’s going down!

Seriously, this strawberry bread is beyond delicious.

We all know I’m not one to exaggerate (much) and although it may seem like I say that every new recipe I post is the newest bestest thing to hit your tastes buds this bread . . . ohmywordthisstrawberrybread!

You need it in your life!

Today!

See this spring I made my first strawberry bread and since then it’s quickly become a summer staple, which I’m sure we’ll see continue to return year after year. This time I thought I’d jazz it up a bit by adding a a little something extra. I ended up adding a sweet strawberry glaze (or if I’m being honest– icing), because go big or go home – amiright?

Fresh strawberries meet an almost cake-like bread. You could forgo the glaze and just spread each slice with butter or strawberry flavored cream cheese and it would be just as delicious!

Like I said, you need this in your life.

ASAP.

Glazed Strawberry Bread

 Glazed Strawberry Bread

recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups 

1 cup chopped strawberries
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup milk
1 3/4 cups flour

Glaze

1/4 cup strawberry jam or preserves
1/4 cup (2 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Directions

1. Put the chopped strawberries in a small bowl. Add flour and stir/toss making sure they’re coated well. Set aside.
2. In a mixer, or by hand, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes of vigorous mixing. Next, add the eggs and vanilla mixing until fully incorporated, scraping the sides, as necessary.
3. Add in the baking powder and salt and mix to completely combine.
4. Turn the mixer to low and slowly begin adding in the flour and milk, beginning and ending with flour, but alternating between the two.
5. Continue mixing until batter is smooth and evenly combined.
6. Using a spatula, fold in the strawberries until they’re fully incorporated, evenly, into the batter. Pour the batter into a greased 9×5 in. pan.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until center is set and a toothpick or knife that’s inserted into your loaf comes out clean.
8. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove from the pan and allow it to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Glaze

Beat the strawberry jam/preserves, cream cheese, and powdered sugar together until smooth. Spread over the cooled bread, allowing it to drip down the sides. Wait about 10 minutes to allow the glaze to ‘set’ before slicing and serving.

Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread

The gardening gods have seen to it that this summer I have more zucchini than I knew what to do with. Fortunately for me, that’s led to finding all these awesome new recipes, and I’m constantly, and pleasantly, being surprised by all the wonderful ways I’m discovering this summer that zucchini can be used. And for someone who does not particularly like surprises, that’s saying something. Flecks of zucchini give a delicious third dimension to the popular lemon and quick bread combination in this moist, breakfast/dessert hybrid. Seriously, lemon and zucchini are a match made in flavor heaven. Who knew?!  This little loaf is easy to make. Quick breads are a perfect starting point for non/new bakers and an easy, old faithful recipe for those who’re already in the ‘fold’.

Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread

4 Sons 'R' Us: Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread 2

recipe adapted from Lil Luna

2 cups cake flour*
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup buttermilk
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup grated zucchini
 
For The Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp milk
 
*To make your own cake flour: for each cup of all purpose flour, remove one tablespoon of flour and replace by adding one tablespoon of cornstarch

4 Sons 'R' Us: Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread

Directions

1. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir to equally incorporate and set aside.
2. Add eggs to the bowl of a mixer and beat well. Continue mixing and in the oil and sugar until evenly combined. Next add in the lemon juice, buttermilk, and zest to the batter and blend until combined completely.
3. Gently fold/blend in the zucchini until fully incorporated.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and blend together until evenly combined.
5. Add the batter into a greased 9×5 loaf pan.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until done.
7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool some. While still warm, make glaze and spoon over the bread. Allow the bread to stand for a bit so that the glaze ‘sets’ before serving.

Sous Chef Sunday: Snickerdoodle Crescent Rolls

While I could go on and on about these perfect little pastries, I’ll get straight to the point for you guys. Today the sons and I are bringing you peanut butter, cinnamon, and sugar wrapped up in crescent rolls for an easy breakfast, snack, or even dessert. Be sure to sit down with a glass of milk, then pile up a gorgeous Snickerdoodle mountain of them. Eat your way to the top one crescent at a time!

Snickerdoodle Crescent Rolls

 4 Sons 'R' Us: Snickerdoodle Crescent Rolls 2

1 tube Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
4 teaspoons peanut butter (crunchy or creamy)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

4 Sons 'R' Us: Snickerdoodle Crescents

1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl combine the cinnamon and sugar.
3. Unroll the crescent dough and carefully seperate into individual triangles along the perforated lines. Spread 1/2 teaspoon of peanut butter onto the top side of the crescents, starting at the wide end and leaving a little space along the edges. Sprinkle each with a pinch of cinnamon sugar. Roll into crescents.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes, until golden brown. While still hot carefully roll them in the cinnamon and sugar.  Roll again after they’ve cooled.
5. These can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Can also be frozen for up to one month. Then you’ve got a quick, on-the-go breakfast or snack for busy days!

Easy Chocolate Covered Red, White, And Blue Strawberries

Nanni always has some sort of special treat for the sons at every holiday gathering. Our 4th of July cookout was no exception. When I saw these, I was excited. Talk about taking chocolate covered strawberries to a whole new level! They were absolutely decious and a stunning addition to the table. I can’t wait to make another batch, this time getting the sons involved.

Strawberries dipped in white chocolate, and blue sugar are a fun and easy dessert, and make a perfect patriotic candy for the 4th of July, or the 5th (you know for all the celebratory cookouts all weekend long). It’s not too late to make a batch either, they’re totally last-minute friendly. So whether it’s at some point this weekend, or at next year’s festivities, bring a special sweetness and a hail to the redwhite and blue in celebration of our independence.

Hold on to the recipe though ….. Christmas is 174 days away and these are just as eye catching using green.

Easy Chocolate Covered Red, White, And Blue Strawberries

4 Sons 'R' Us: Red White and Blue Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Strawberries, washed and dried
White chocolate
Blue sugar, edible glitter, or sprinkles (blue sugar is shown in the picture)

Red White and Blue Chocolate Covered Strawberries 2

Directions

1. Place blue sugar in a bowl.
2. In a separate bowl melt the chocolate, either in the microwave for two minute intervals, stirring in between until totally melted, in a mini crockpot set to low (this will keep it warm for some time and allow you more time to work), or using a double boiler on the stove top. Holding the stem, dip the lower two thirds of the strawberries in the melted white chocolate. Then, dip the lower third of the strawberries in the blue sugar or spoon it onto the strawberry.
3. Place on wax paper or a Silpat and refrigerate until completely cool.

Cinnamon Roll Dippers

Growing up I remember my Grandma always having a pie or two cooling. Boy, did she make good pies. Peach, cherry, apple, rhubarb…you name it. And it wasn’t just the fillings that were delicious. The buttery, flaky crusts were pastry perfection. The real treat for us grand-kids wasn’t the pie we had to wait on dessert for though, it was what we knew she would do with the leftover pie crust. She would sprinkle them with cinammon and sugar and bake them into sweet little sticks. These are so similar to what she did, but the dip blew my mind. Sorry Grandma, but the dip is where it’s at.

A sweet start to the morning? These can be for breakfast or dessert. The sticks are soft and buttery and then dipped in that cinnamon sweet sauce makes it just right. And yes, I know they’re on the sweet side for breakfast, but you’ve got to treat yourself every once in a while, right?

Cinnamon Roll Dippers

4 Sons 'R' Us: Cinnamon Roll Dippers

recipe originally from Creme De La Crumb

1½ cups flour
4 tablespoons sugar (divided)
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened +1 tablespoon (divided)
3-6 tablespoons ice cold water
1 teaspoon cinnamon

for the glaze dip

2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1½ cups powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla
milk
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

1. Combine flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Cut in ½ cup butter with pastry cutter or two forks until crumbly. Add 3 tablespoons ice cold water and mix to combine. Add more water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed until mixture comes together. Flatten dough into a round disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill 15 minutes or overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 375 and grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.
3. When dough has chilled, unwrap it and use a pizza cutter to cut into 1-1/2 inch strips. Place wtrips on prepared baking sheet. Use a rubber spatula to spread 1 tablespoon butter over the tops of the strips. Combine cinnamon and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle mixture on top of buttered strips. Bake uncovered 12-14 minutes, until lightly browned.
4. Prepare the glaze dip by combining softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a bowl. Use a hand mixer to mix well. Add milk 1 teaspoon at a time until a smooth consistency is reached. In a small sauce pan combine brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon and whisk until butter melts and mixture is smooth. Drizzle cinnamon mixture into prepared glaze dip. Serve

*These can be made ahead by making the dough and glaze up to two days beforehand and chilling until ready to eat. When ready, simply bake the sticks as the directions suggest (may need to increase time by 1-2 minutes) and warm the glaze in a microwave safe bowl before serving.

Cinnamon Roll lover? Try these recipes next…

4 Sons 'R' Us: Cinnamon Roll Popcorn

Cinnamon Roll Popcorn

4 Sons 'R' Us: Cinnamon Roll Waffles

Cinnamon Roll Waffles with Cream Cheese Glaze

Sous Chef Sunday: Kool-Aid Meringue Cookies

Oh, Kool-Aid, how the sons love you. How they will agonize over the packet selection at the grocery store, trying to find the perfect five or so for a $1, occasionally arguing amongst each other over whether they really want to waste one of their picks on plain, old orange. It’s always a bit of a bummer for them when they realize their packets have run out, and they’ve got to wait 2-3 more weeks for our monthly grocery trek to get anymore. Imagine their surprise when they saw me putting extra packets into the cart a few months ago. They were a bit surprised when I said we wouldn’t be drinking the grape or the cherry, but baking them instead.

These were super easy to make, and the kids enjoyed the slightly sweet taste as the cookies melted in their mouths. The older sons even learned how to separate an egg, something I didn’t do for the first time until just a few years ago. Son # 4 even helped pipe them out onto a baking sheet. He was pretty proud of himself and his ability to get his hands ‘dirty’. I’ve seen these described before as easy peasy lemon squeezy and that’s the truth!

Kool-Aid Meringue Cookies

4 Snos 'R' Us: koolaid meringue cookies

recipe originally from Adventures In All Things Food

4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 c. superfine sugar (or pulse up sugar in a food processor till fine)
1 tsp. Kool-Aid liquid

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
2. In a stand mixer, beat the eggs till they are frothy. Then add in the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Then start beating in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is all dissolved and the peaks are stiff. Rub a little of the egg whites between your fingers to check for gritty sugar. The mixture should be smooth. Then beat in a teaspoon of the Kool-Aid liquid.
3. Put in a piping bag with a 1M tip and pipe onto a parchment covered baking sheet or silicone mat. Keep the cookies uniform so they will dry evenly. Bake for 45 minutes and then turn off the oven and leave the cookies in for another hour. They should be completely cool and release easily from the baking sheet.
4. Enjoy right away or store in an airtight container.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake

Gah, kids grow so fast! I look at the sons at least ten different times on any given day and find myself taken aback. They look so… grown. When did that happen? Wasn’t it just yesterday even son # 1 still need his tears wiped away and boo boos kissed by Mom? I’m always surprised by how fast they grow. I’m thinking that won’t ever change, no matter how old they get or how much they eventually tower over their Dad & I. That being said, feeding said growing boys has proved quite the challenge over the past few years. When they enter the ‘hungry phase’ (although it’s really not a stage since the hubs hasn’t left it behind yet) it strike immediately. One day they will have been eating a nice normal portion of food, and the next, next, next, and so on after that…they’ve become walking, talking garbage disposals eating us out of house and home and peppering the rest of my days with hungry pleas for more. The only feasible solution that we’ve found is protein. Protein, protein, protein. The fuel my 5 hungry guys need to stay full and, incidentally, focused. I’ve gotten pretty creative at finding affordable ways to incorporate more of it into their meals snacks, and even desserts, to help keep their bellies and my bank account as full as possible.

Knowing the struggle, as I’m sure every other parent has juggled before, I knew this little ditty was going to be taking a test run. Packed with a whopping 28 grams of protein (yes, you read that right) I was fairly confident they’d guzzle it down without a second thought since all that protein was hidden under layers of chocolate and peanut butter. Two things the sons never turn down. And why would they when they combine so beautifully here. An easy, healthy peanut butter chocolate smoothie tasting just like a peanut butter cup. What’s a Mom, or anyone really, not to love about that?!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake

chocolate peanut butter protein shake 2

recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

1 large banana, peeled, sliced, and frozen
3 Tablespoons sweetened cocoa powder
6 oz Chobani 0% Greek Yogurt (or 2%, flavored or unflavored)
3/4 cup skim milk (or your favorite kind of nondairy or dairy milk)
1-2 tbsp honey, maple syrup, or agave
1 tbsp creamy peanut butter

4 Sons 'R' Us: chocolate peanut butter protein shake

Directions

1. Put all of the ingredients into the blender, in the order listed, and blend on high until thick and smooth. I would start with only 2 tbsp of cocoa powder, blend, and then add 1 more for a stronger chocolate taste.
2. You may need to stop and stir/scrape down the sides of the blender a few times. Drizzle glass with 1 tsp of chocolate syrup (optional), hold the glass up and let it swirl around inside for a bit, pour your shake in, and enjoy!
3. If you prefer a less sweet smoothie, you may leave out the honey. Add more peanut butter for a stronger peanut butter taste. Add more milk to make the smoothie thinner, if desired. Add 1 cup of your favorite greens for added nutrition.