Sunday, September 24, 2017

October dessert plan

Hi everyone! It's almost time for my favorite month of the year: October!! Halloween, apple picking, pumpkins, crisp colored leaves, cooler weather, apple cider, and all that fun stuff! Get ready with all these fun and spooky dessert and treat ideas!

092417 October-main

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Honey cheddar beer bread w/ honey butter


September's Fantastical Food Fight theme is: HONEY! I was really excited when I saw this month's theme because we really love honey around this house. We've been avoiding it over the past year since it's not safe for babies to eat until one year of age, but now our twins are over that so I can incorporate honey into my food and cooking again. I was going to make a dessert, but then I was leaning toward something more savory and decided since we had chili on our meal plan menu this week that a beer bread with honey would be perfect. Also, honey butter because, yum! Beer bread is such a quick side dish to whip up during soup and chili season. You'll have a quick, easy, and hearty side dish. Use a light colored beer (I used a lager) that doesn't have a super strong flavor so you don't overpower the bread. I based my recipe off of this one because I was intrigued by the addition of melted butter into the baking pan which I don't usually do when I make beer bread. It turned out delicious! This recipe will make one loaf of bread.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Baked pumpkin oatmeal


A warm and inviting autumn breakfast - baked pumpkin oatmeal is delicious and easy, plus it makes your house smell like fall! My current obsession with baked oatmeal continues with this fall flavored version. Just last month I posted two baked oatmeal recipes - peanut butter and zucchini bread. We've been eating these a couple of times a week because all four of us love them. I knew a pumpkin version was in my future because pumpkin is amazing and also it's almost time for all things pumpkin also known as FALL! My favorite time of the year! We had a streak of cooler days, but now we are back to more summer-like weather, but cooler nights. Our big maple tree is starting to turn orange and red. We now have pumpkins and mums on our front stoop and I hung up a Halloween banner on the front door. So, I'm ready for fall-mode now! Let the apple picking, pumpkin spicing, blanket snuggling, leaf peeping, and everything else fall-fun related begin! First up, a tasty hearty breakfast.


Friday, September 8, 2017

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Chocolate chip zucchini banana muffins


Banana bread and zucchini bread collide in these ultra-moist muffins studded with mini chocolate chips. Well, folks, another summer is winding down. Fall is the season I look forward to most every year. I love living somewhere with four distinct seasons (even if they have been getting a little muddled the past few years). This year though, I'm feeling a little disappointed and a touch sad that summer is over. My babies' first birthday has already come and gone. They are growing so quickly. I think maybe it's something to do with finally having children, but I'm more acutely aware than ever of the swift passage of time. Time is our most precious non-renewable resource. I want to soak up every minute with my children because they are growing and changing so much every day it seems. At the same time, some days I'm counting down the hours or minutes until my husband comes home or until nap time haha. The odd dichotomy of motherhood. I'm looking forward to doing fall activities with them this year though like apple picking, pumpkin picking, playing in the leaves, etc.

This may be my last zucchini recipe for this summer's zucchini season, but it's a great one! If you have zucchini lingering, give these tasty muffins a try. You won't be disappointed. This recipe will be 12 standard sized muffins.


Monday, September 4, 2017

One pan stuffed peppers skillet


Stuffed peppers were always a late summer staple in my house growing up. My mom made them probably every year with peppers from our garden. I think she always froze a couple batches too for easy winter time dinners. They were always a meal everyone enjoyed! This version takes a lot of the leg work out of the meal, but still gives you all the stuffed pepper flavors in a one-pan dinner. Yes, one pan is all you need - no separate pot to cook the meat, separate pot to cook the rice, and then separate baking dish -- all one skillet! I used ground turkey in this version, but you can use the traditional ground beef, of course. My mom never put cheese on our stuffed peppers, but I thought it would be a nice touch for this version. This dish will serve 5-6 people. Add a side of crusty bread, if desired.


Friday, September 1, 2017

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Yellow squash and apple bread


The summer to autumn transition can be made a little sweeter with a loaf of this lightly spiced quick bread made with yellow squash and apples. There are always lots of zucchini recipes popping up this time of year to use up all those garden monsters, but not so many for yellow squash. My father-in-law often grows a lot of crookneck squash, so we are usually looking for ways to use those up around the same time as zucchinis. I took my zucchini bread recipe and modified it slightly to come up with this version using crooknecks and apple. I used a Granny Smith apple which provided a nice sour note and light green flecks through the bread. They looked pretty alongside the yellow flecks. I love quick breads - there are a ton of them on this blog already! They are perfect with your morning coffee and some scrambled eggs or as a mid-morning or afternoon snack with tea. The flavor combinations are pretty endless and they are a simple way to use up produce. This recipe will make one loaf of bread.

The weather the past few days have been a touch cooler and it's getting darker noticeably earlier now (which is nice for putting kiddos to bed). I smell fall in the air. This summer has been a lot of fun for me and I'm not really ready for it to end just yet. But, I do love autumn and am getting excited for apple season. I'm going to be re-reading one of my favorite books to prepare.

 


Friday, August 25, 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Balsamic chicken caprese pasta


A delicious summertime pasta dinner made with garden fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella, and balsamic glazed chicken! This pasta dish can be enjoyed hot, warm, or cold straight out of the fridge. It's a lovely dish for a late summer evening, especially if you are lucky enough to have garden fresh grape or cherry tomatoes and basil. Our basil plant is one of the few things doing really well in our garden this year and while we have been getting a few grape tomatoes, I still had to buy some of those for this dish. Hopefully next year's garden is more successful, though a lot of it has to do with the crazy weather we've been having here this summer, so who knows. What I do know is that this dish was a hit, even with two toddlers (I just cut it up nice and small for them). I was somewhat surprised they liked the vinegar flavor, but then again not really because they tend to like almost everything!


Monday, August 21, 2017

Baked zucchini bread oatmeal


The flavors of zucchini bread baked into your morning oatmeal! I am on a bit of a baked oatmeal kick lately. It started with the peanut butter one that I posted on a couple of weeks ago and now we are onto zucchini. With fall coming, I see many more versions (pumpkin! sweet potato! apple!) making an appearance in our kitchen and in our bellies in the near future. This time of year, many people are trying to find ways to use up their zucchinis. We love zucchini bread, and I figured that it would make a delicious baked oatmeal as well. Also, as I've mentioned before, we are always looking for meals that our twins can easily feel themselves. This method makes it easier for them to get the oatmeal into their mouths all by themselves (because they aren't fans of being spoon fed anymore). This zucchini version was a hit with all of us! We like to serve ours scooped into a bowl with a little milk, or just cut into a square for the little ones.


Friday, August 18, 2017

August 18th Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

Friday Frenzy
Welcome to the Friday Frenzy, the Best Food and Craft Link Party on the Web. Why is it the best?
  1. Well when you link your favorite posts to the Friday Frenzy your posts will be seen across 9 blogs, for NINE TIMES the exposure.
  2. We ask all linkers to pin the featured posts of the week for even more exposure
  3. Our host bloggers are all part of an inclusive and support group on Facebook, we welcome all bloggers big or small and we actively promote other bloggers, so bring on your best links

Monday, August 14, 2017

Cheesy Italian zucchini & turkey casserole


Zucchini season is upon us. In this dish, zucchini is used to make a cheesy base for the casserole topped with ground turkey, spaghetti sauce, vegetables, and more cheese. You will see similar versions called a Zucchini Pizza Casserole, but to me there is nothing pizza-ish about this casserole. My version uses the same base idea, but the toppings are different. Maybe more like a spaghetti bake? I don't know. So I'm just calling this version a Cheesy Italian Zucchini & Turkey Casserole. Naming dishes can be tricky sometimes. Too wordy? Not an adequate description? Haha, I don't know. I do know that this dish was a huge hit in our family and was even completely gobbled up by two one year olds, so that's a win for me! Whatever you call it, it's delicious! It's definitely a keeper and a way to use up some of your garden's zucchini. This recipe will serve about four to five people as a main dish. Serve with a loaf of crusty bread and/or a side salad to stretch it a bit more.

We are usually inundated with zucchini at this time of year, but the odd weather has left many in our area with gardens that aren't producing as well as they usually do. So, I actually *gasp* bought zucchini from a farm stand. It almost didn't feel right!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Monday, August 7, 2017

Applesauce barley infant cereal mini muffins


I've been on a quest lately to perfect a mini muffin recipe for my one-year old twins that uses up some of our leftover opened containers of infant cereal. I guess there comes a point where all babies start to reject the baby cereal and/or being spoon-fed, and we hit ours a month or so ago. Since I'm striving to be a frugal mama and really loathe food waste, I have been looking for ways to use up what we have opened instead of throwing it away. I've made a few batches and they turned out just OK... The cereal soaks up a bunch of moisture, so you need to get a good ratio of flour to cereal and also liquid to dry ingredients. They still ate them, but I wasn't satisfied with the results until this version. Keep in mind, these aren't bakery muffins - they aren't super pretty, they are a little bumpy, and they don't rise a ton, but they are a great way to use up your baby cereal and to give your toddlers a finger food to feed themselves. I used barley cereal, which was my twins' favorite, but you should be able to sub oatmeal, rice, or multigrain versions. I give these to them whole and they are soft enough that they can easily take bites or break pieces off to eat themselves. This recipe will make approximately 22 mini muffins. I like to give them one as a snack, or a couple with some cut up fruit for an easy breakfast.


Friday, August 4, 2017

August 4th Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

Friday Frenzy

Welcome to the Friday Frenzy Link Party

You've just joined the Best Food and Craft Link Party on the Web and we are so glad to have you here!!! 


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Baked peanut butter oatmeal


Creamy peanut butter, oats, brown sugar, and a touch of cinnamon baking in the morning will make your whole house smell wonderful. Lately I've been on a quest for easy and nutritious breakfasts that my twins (and my husband and I) will eat. They love scrambled eggs with vegetables, pancakes, and cut up fruit, but they've recently become resistant to being fed from a spoon and don't have much interest in learning it for themselves yet. So oatmeal, cream of wheat, and other hot cereals they used to eat are becoming harder. They will still take yogurt though - they love yogurt! I decided to try out baked oatmeal with them so that they are still eating the oats, but can pick it up themselves. This peanut butter one is a hit with the whole family. The peanut butter flavor is perfect with the lightly sweetened oats. The twins ate theirs cut into a square with some halved blueberries and my husband and I ate it scooped into a bowl with blueberries and milk. We ate it cold cut into squares again the next day. It's slightly crumbly, but also very soft so it's great for toddlers. This recipe will serve about 4-6 people, depending on age and hunger level.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

August Meal Plan

It's the last Sunday of the month, so that means it's time for the monthly meal plan. Here are some recipes for August - easy dinners and breakfasts for back to school time!

August Meal Plan-main 

Friday, July 28, 2017

July 28th Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

Friday Frenzy

Welcome to the Friday Frenzy, the Best Food and Craft Link Party on the Web. 
Why is it the best?
  1. Well when you link your favorite posts to the Friday Frenzy your posts will be seen across 9 blogs, for NINE TIMES the exposure.
  2. We ask all linkers to pin the featured posts of the week for even more exposure
  3. Our host bloggers are all part of an inclusive and support group on Facebook, we welcome all bloggers big or small and we actively promote other bloggers, so bring on your best links

Monday, July 24, 2017

Three-cheese turkey & spinach mac


Ground turkey and fresh spinach are added to this stovetop macaroni and cheese, making it a more nutritious meal and also extra tasty. My twins are turning one this week!! I can't believe it. This past year has been amazing and crazy and a whirlwind. It's true what everyone tells you - the days can be long, but the weeks are fast. It's so cool to watch them grow and change. They are learning new things all the time. I love watching them interact with each other (when they aren't hurting one another) and seeing their very different personalities develop. So far we've been lucky in that they both love, love food and eating. So I'm always trying to come up with baby and toddler foods that they will enjoy and also can eat/chew safely. This meal was a big hit for them as well as my husband and I. I love meals that are all-in-one. Just put a couple scoops in a bowl and you're good to go. This meal will easily feed about 5-6 people. So if you are like us you will get a bunch of lunch leftovers.

Enjoying our dinner!

Friday, July 21, 2017

July 21st Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party


Welcome to the Friday Frenzy!!

The Best Food and Craft Link Party on the Web. Why is it the best?

  • When you link your favorite posts to the Friday Frenzy your posts will be seen across 9 blogs, for NINE TIMES the exposure
  • We ask all linkers to pin the featured posts of the week for even more exposure
  • Our host bloggers are all part of a blogging support group on Facebook. We welcome all bloggers, big or small, and we actively promote other bloggers, so bring on your best links!!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Menu planning for frugal living

Our grocery and menu board always hangs on the side of the refrigerator. It's not a pretty or fancy board or photo, it's real life here.

Last week I posted about how I am striving to be a frugal mama and I thought I'd expand a little bit on some of the topics in their own posts. First up is menu planning. Not the most exciting of topics, I get it. But, it's crucial to saving money when you are living on a budget and/or aspiring to not waste money. If you don't have a menu plan, likely you will end up eating out/ordering take-out more frequently, throwing away food more frequently, and going to the grocery store more than necessary. We have this ultra-fancy (haha) little white board that lives on the side of our fridge. When we are getting close to running out of a pantry or fridge staple, or think of something we would like, it goes on the grocery side. This way, we are rarely caught off-guard running out of something and I don't have to spend much time thinking or checking if we need items when I make the grocery list.

Friday, July 14, 2017

July 14th Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

Welcome to the Friday Frenzy, the Best Food and Craft Link Party on the Web!
Friday Frenzy
Why is the Friday Frenzy link party the best?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Lemon pudding cookies


Lightly sweetened lemon cookies with a drizzle of very lemony glaze are a perfect cookie for summer picnics and potlucks. I made these little cookies to take to a gathering we had to watch a parade on the 4th of July. They were a hit and even my twins got to try a couple bites! They enjoyed their first parade. I wasn't quite sure how they would react with all the loud noise, etc. but they had fun. They only jumped a couple times when the fire trucks blew their horns. I was glad about that because sometimes they have a hard time in new places or when there are a lot of people around. Cookies make things better though, I suppose!

This recipe makes about three dozen cookies, so it's great when you need to bring something to a picnic or party. I was thinking of a cookie with a bit of a lemonade flavor when I decided to try these. I modified this recipe as written below. I think the cookies tasted better the next 1-2 days after baking because the lemon flavor had more time to really permeate through the dough. The glaze is a must - it's where a lot of the lemon flavor lives, so don't skip it!


Monday, July 10, 2017

Striving to be a frugal mama


Some of our cloth diaper stash drying out on the line.

I'm taking a little break from recipe posting today. Today I'm going to talk about my life as a frugal mama of twins. Or, at least ways I'm striving to be a frugal mama. Before the twins, my husband and I were already Mr. Money Mustache followers. We were working hard to pay down our student loan debt while saving for a house. We started tracking every single penny that came in or out of our household (we still do this) to identify areas that needed improvement while also holding ourselves more accountable for random spending (you'd be amazed how much this can change your outlook on money and spending habits). We dropped our expensive phone plans and switched to Ting, we cut the cable cord and streamed Netflix, restaurants and take-out became for special occasions only, and so on. All of these changes helped us immensely to pay down our student loans and stash cash. On the flip side, we were also spending quite a bit of money trying to build our family. But, we were okay with that because it was a priority for our lives. All of these changes allowed us to buy a home (and just in time as we found out a couple months later that twins were in our future!!). Fast forward to me becoming a stay-at-home mom after my grant-funded job ended the same month our twins were due; our need to really ramp up our frugal skills emerged! My husband and I both work in the environmental field - so not the most lucrative or stable job market. So, we decided that I'd stay with the twins and see how it went since the timing worked out well with my job ending and because daycare for two infants is extremely costly. It's been almost a year and it's both amazing and difficult being home with them! I'm so glad to have this time with them, but I do sometimes miss my work. I'm not sure what the future holds on that, but these are some things I've learned as I strive to be a frugal mama.

Friday, July 7, 2017

July 7th Friday Frenzy Food & Craft Link Party

Friday Frenzy

Happy Friday, everyone! Can you believe it's July already?! I can't. This year is flying by! Summer weather is finally in full swing here in WNY and that means the summer produce is coming as well. Please check out the link party and link-up your favorite posts from this past week!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Toddler quinoa, broccoli, & cheddar bites


These little bites are a perfect size for toddler hands, but also make a fun and tasty adult side/snack. As with all my baby/toddler recipes, they have been twin tested and approved. Except this was was only approved by one. The other was unsure about these.... So, I'm not sure if it was the texture or what because she likes broccoli, quinoa, and cheese.... but I guess not in this form. These are definitely for older toddlers with some good experience chewing and probably a few teeth. The baking makes the outsides slightly crunchy/chewy, but the inside remains soft. I froze these to reheat for a quick meal. Since it makes about 15 pieces, you may want to store them in the freezer (or just eat up the rest yourself). The microwave is probably your best bet for reheating to keep them soft and to not dry out (the quinoa and cheese may get too crunchy), but I have also used the oven. Let them thaw out in the refrigerator overnight before re-heating to serve. These are a little hand held meal!


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Cowboy beans


I hope everyone is enjoying #CookoutWeek 2017 and finding tons of amazing recipes for your summer cookouts and picnics! Don't forget to enter to win our awesome giveaways for your summer cookout needs and more. Today, I'm sharing an over-the-top bean recipe for your next cookout. It's over-the-top because it contains not only four different types of beans*, but also beef and bacon. These beans are a hearty, sweet, stick-to-your-ribs side dish that feeds a crowd and is always a win! There are a lot of different versions of these types of bean dishes with many different names, but I like the name cowboy beans as they remind me of something one would eat while sitting around a campfire. They go perfectly with barbeque chicken, burgers, hot dogs (pro-tip: spoon some on top of your hot dog with a bit of mustard), and more! 


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Smoked shrimp & avocado tacos


#CookoutWeek is here and I'm super excited to be participating with so many amazing bloggers. Grilling, cookouts, picnics, and eating outside are all quintessential summer activities. I can't wait to see all the terrific recipes everyone shares this week.

First up, I'm sharing these Smoked Shrimp & Avocado Tacos made with the help of Smokin' O's. My husband is the grill master here, so he helped me with this recipe and we were both really looking forward to trying these out. We don't have a smoker, but we do enjoy smoke flavor, so this was a perfect product for us. We used the Applewood Smokin' O's for these tacos and they turned out amazing!! The smoke flavor was prominent, but not at all overpowering. I wasn't sure if the smoke flavor would penetrate the shrimp since they don't cook for too long, but they were perfect! The Smokin' O's were so simple to use and we will be using them a lot! We already have more ideas, so be on the look-out for those. Tacos are a year-round staple for us and I love that we can make them on the grill now, too!

This taco recipe will serve two people. It's perfect for a weeknight cookout for two, or it's super simple to double or even triple! 

Check out my video of a Smokin' O in action on the grill while making this recipe!