Christmas Cookie Explosion

This week’s post is by Christine Luken.

Every year in December, for as long as I can remember, my mom and I take an entire Saturday and bake our famous sugar cookies with buttercream icing.  It’s one of my absolute favorite things about the holiday season!  Of course the cookies taste delicious, but half the fun is baking, icing, and decorating them together. By the time we have made a tripe batch, it looks like a cookie explosion has gone off in my kitchen.  There’s flour, frosting, sprinkles, and icing everywhere!  The finished product is worth it though. I have friends and family literally begging me for a few cookies, and wanting the recipe.

This year we had a few new additions to the cookie cutters that we’ve been using for ages.  My husband used his GorillaMaker 3-D printer to make “A” and “R” cookie cutters for my niece, Ayla, and my nephew, Reid.  Usually, they join us but my poor niece had the flu.   I’ll probably do a mini cookie baking session in January with them because I know they were disappointed about not being able to come over.  (But no need to bake flu germs into the sugar cookies, right?)

I also bought these awesome “Ninjabread Men” cookie cutters from Amazon.  I’ve always loved martial arts, so I thought they would be a fun addition to the usual stockings, angels, and Christmas tree cookies.  I’m definitely making sure that my nephew gets a few of the frosted ninja cookies!

So for the past four years, I’ve teased you, my dear blog readers, with pictures and descriptions of my fabulous sugar cookies, but have never released the recipe.  So here is your holiday gift from me (with my mom’s blessing) – Carol & Christine’s Christmas Sugar Cookie Recipe! Enjoy!

Carol & Christine’s Christmas Sugar Cookies

(Single Batch)

 Ingredients:

  • ¾ Cup of Butter
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp. real Vanilla Extract
  • 2 ½ Cups of Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Salt

Directions:

1.) Cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.

2.) In a separate bowl, add flour, baking powder, and salt.  Blend thoroughly.  Add the mixture from #1 and mix well.  (This usually requires hand kneading at thoroughly combine.)

3.) Chill dough 3 hours or overnight.  Take dough out of the fridge 30 minutes before baking to soften it up.

4.) Preheat oven to 400 F.

5.) Roll dough on a floured surface.  If the dough seems too sticky, work some extra flour into in before rolling out.

6.) Cut with cookie cutters.  Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden brown.

7.) Cool on sheet before removing.  Let cool completely before frosting.

 

Buttercream Frosting

 

Ingredients:

  •  ¼ Cup of Butter
  • 2 Cups of Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp. real Vanilla Extract
  • 2 – 3 TBS. Evaporated Milk
  • Food Coloring

Beat first four ingredients with an electric mixer.  Once thoroughly combined, transfer to a small bowl and add food coloring.  If frosting becomes a little stiff, add a little extra evaporated milk and stir.

Five Fun Christmas Dessert Recipes

This week’s post is by Amy of Savvy Saving Couple

One of my favorite activities to do during the holiday season is bake. Making desserts, cookies, and casseroles is just so fun once the weather gets chilly. Seasonal baking is especially fun because there is no better time of year to indulge in some homemade and festive treats. I thought it would be fun to spread some Christmas cheer and share five of my family’s fun and easy Christmas dessert recipes.

First up is my Pistachio Cherry Christmas Cake. This recipe has been in my family for decades. It is such a unique cake because it has a delicious pistachio flavor, maraschino cherries, nuts, and is super moist. It is easy to make and can be turned into a beautiful Bundt cake, or even cupcakes.

Next we have a recipe for Gingerbread Men Cookies that was passed down from my grandmother. I love these cookies because they are slightly chewy, and the dough is great for actual cut out cookies. Personally, I prefer to always chill my dough before cutting out my little men, because the shapes stay. Decorating them may be even more fun because the decorating choices are endless.

Love easy treats that require hardly any cooking skill? I used to be like that too! That is why Peppermint Bark is one of the easiest Christmas or seasonal treats I have ever made! Seriously, who would have thought that just two ingredients could produce such a tasty treat that goes perfectly with a side of hot cocoa! You can switch this recipe up too if you prefer dark or milk chocolate.

Don’t have time to bake? Another fun and easy Christmas dessert option for parties and hosting are these Christmas Oreo Truffles. These are no bake balls that are made with a few simple ingredients. However, the taste is so rich and seems as if you traveled high and far for only the finest truffles. These no bake Oreo Balls are perfect for this season of cheer!

Since the Christmas season is just such a busy one, I couldn’t leave out a recent short cut or “hack” I discovered for yummy Peppermint Brownies. These delicious treats use boxed brownie mix, and store bought vanilla frosting. The secret ingredient is peppermint extract which takes these brownies from average to rock star is seconds. These would make great treats for parties, or a late night snack!

As you can see, the Christmas season doesn’t have to be spent slaving in the kitchen. There are just so many sweet treats which you can make or bake up this time of year. I hope you and your family enjoy our top 5 Fun and Christmas Desserts and Treats recipes.

 

 

Save Money on Meat

This week’s post is by Christine Luken.

I know from personal experience that eating a diet rich in protein helps to keep me strong and slim.  However, you don’t have to be a “meat-atarian” to get the slimming results of protein.  According to Robert Ferguson, creator of Diet Free Life (the healthy eating plan that I’ve followed for over three years), if you’re getting 15 to 30 grams of protein with each meal, you’re on track.

With that being said, I’m going to give you some strategies to save money on your protein purchases.  The price of meat is definitely NOT getting any cheaper and eating grass-fed and organic is downright expensive!  Three things to keep in mind: buy on sale, eat less meat, and occasionally go meatless.

Buy on Sale

I have a tendency to create my monthly meal plans around what I’ve recently scored on sale at the grocery store.  I also check out what’s marked down in the meat department.  If it’s something that looks fine but has an imminent expiration date, I’ll either cook it up right away or freeze it.  The crock pot is definitely a good friend of mine because it makes cheaper cuts of meat taste delicious and fall right off the bone.  I purchase the vast majority of my chicken with the bone in because I get more for my money.  I frequently cook a whole chicken in the crock pot and make several meals out of it.  For example, tonight Nick and I are going to have rosemary chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy with broccoli.  I’ll shred the leftover dark meat and mix it with BBQ sauce and send Nick to work with BBQ sandwiches and sweet potato fries for lunch.  As for the remaining white meat, I’ll use it later in the week for my Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup.  Also, ask if there’s a discount if you buy in bulk.  I recently bought chicken thighs from a local farm and they gave me a discount since I purchased 10 pounds (and froze most of it).

Eat Less Meat

Most Americans eat larger servings of meat than their bodies actually need.  You can painlessly cut the amount of meat in a dish without sacrificing taste or feeling hungry.  For example, when I make spaghetti and meat sauce, I can easily cut back on the amount of ground turkey (or beef) and add a package of fresh mushrooms (washed and sliced) to the meat while it’s cooking.  Mushrooms have a meaty taste and are rich in protein, so it’s not really noticeable that the amount of turkey has been decreased. If you don’t like mushrooms, you can sub in your choice of zucchini, onions, bell peppers, or eggplant.  You can also do this with black beans or leftover brown rice when making tacos or burritos.  This will allow you to stretch a pound of ground meat over two meals instead of just one.  Be creative!  You also add corn, pinto and other beans, quinoa, barley, and other grains or vegetables to stretch your meat.

Occasionally Go Meatless

Yes, you can get enough protein from non-meat sources!  It seems there’s been a surge in the popularity of “Meatless Mondays.”  Don’t believe me?  Just search “Meatless Monday” on Pinterest and see the thousands upon thousands of recipes that pop up!  With delicious sounding recipes like Lentil Chili, Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas, Mushroom Fajitas, and Spinach & Ricotta Pasta, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything at all!  Some of my personal vegetarian favorites are Black Bean Chili and Easy Cheesy Casserole.  I also can’t wait to try this Sweet Potato Salad recipe!

If you have any other tips for saving money on your meat purchases, I’d love to hear them!

 

 

Meal Planning Monday ~ Vegetarian Options for Holiday Gatherings

This week’s post is by Casey Lindberg-Coghill of Veggies & Glitter.

I’ll never forget my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian.

While my family heaped their plates with smoked ham and oven-roasted turkey, my holiday meal consisted of pumpkin pie, brown sugar sweet potatoes, and several yeast rolls. Ironically, I had become a vegetarian for purely nutritional reasons, yet my feast was anything but nourishing. I knew that something had to change if I was going to successfully stick with this new lifestyle through the holiday season each year.

Since then, I have collected an arsenal of recipes that I can make and tote along to social gatherings from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Not only do I now have healthy options at holiday parties, but my friends and family have grown to look forward to these dishes as much as the meat-laden ones they have been devouring for years.

These five plates will brighten any holiday potluck spread, but they can also be served up as main entrees at home on busy weeknights. Whether you’re accommodating a strict vegetarian or just looking to lighten up on the amount of meat you consume yourself, these easy recipes will leave you feeling satisfied this season.

Monday: Butternut Squash and Wild Rice Salad

Image and recipe courtesy of The Vegetarian Times

Yes, planning a holiday meal is stressful, but I would argue that generating healthy meals during a busy week of school or work is just as taxing. Because half of this vitamin-rich recipe is prepared ahead of time, this salad is the perfect meal for a particularly manic Monday when ordering pizza seems like the only viable option.

Preparing the rice mixture on a leisurely Sunday and chilling it in the fridge overnight will make it possible for you to have an antioxidant-loaded meal on the table in less than a half an hour. To save yourself even more weekday work, also dice up the butternut squash and store it in the fridge one day prior to devouring this salad with your family!

Access the full recipe here: http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/butternut-squash-and-wild-rice-salad

Tuesday: Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Image and recipe courtesy of Whole Foods Market

I’ll be the first to admit that I only thought of the sweet potato as a dessert component until I had reached adulthood. After all, I had only ever tasted it when it was topped with marshmallows, smothered with brown sugar and butter, or incorporated into a pie. It never struck me that it was also a savory root vegetable packed with a slew of vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, as well as iron and potassium.

Sweet potatoes are combined with fresh baby arugula and naturally sweetened with honey in this recipe, which is full of flavor without all of the processed junk that is often included in sweet potato dishes.

Access the full recipe: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/roasted-sweet-potato-salad

Wednesday: Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Image and recipe courtesy of Sayyes.com

Vegetarians obviously won’t be indulging in the main protein source (turkey, of course!) in which most people indulge on Thanksgiving. But that doesn’t mean that “tofurkey” has to be at the heart of a meatless feast. Even as someone who is enthusiastic about sampling a wide array of meat alternatives, I’ll be quite honest that the idea of faux turkey sounds revolting to me.

This delicious recipe will undoubtedly appeal to both vegetarians and meat lovers alike, and it will save you from having to resort to noshing on “tofurkey” this Thanksgiving.  Quinoa is often thought to be a grain because it’s frequently used as a replacement for rice, but it’s actually a seed that can sprout into a leafy vegetable if harvested in a certain way. Like leafy greens, it’s also packed with protein. Served in half of a roasted acorn squash and topped with pumpkin seeds, it will leave you feeling more satisfied than turkey ever could.

Access full recipe: http://sayyes.com/2013/11/quinoa-stuffed-acorn-squash.html

Thursday: Spinach and Cheese Strata

Image and recipe courtesy of Annies-eats.com

A vegetarian strata recipe is ideal to have on hand over the holidays due to its versatility. Not only would you be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t love to indulge in such a decadently rich dish, but it can also be served virtually any time of day. While this dish was a hit when I served it to my family at a Thanksgiving weekend brunch, I also enjoy making it on cool fall evenings when it’s just my husband and me together at home.

Even though this dish is not for those who are counting carbs, it’s also loaded with protein-rich eggs and fiber-filled spinach. It’s certainly a healthier “comfort food” option than most others you will find this holiday season!

Access the full recipe: http://www.annies-eats.com/2010/03/15/spinach-and-cheese-strata/

Friday: Roasted Apple Pumpkin Soup

Image and recipe courtesy of Eating Well Magazine

 One of my favorite things to do during the fall months is to go apple picking with loved ones. Regardless of how many times I tell myself to take it easy, I always come home with more apples than I can physically consume before they rot! This recipe is one of my personal favorites because it combines tart apples straight from the orchard with pumpkin, one of my other favorite seasonal flavors.

Because it makes a large batch of leftovers that will last for up to three days in your refrigerator, this recipe is ideal for a busy holiday weekend when you want to have an easy, healthy option on hand. Just remember that in order for this to be a truly vegetarian dish, you must use vegetable stock rather than that made with chicken.

Access the full recipe: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/pumpkin_apple_soup.html

In addition to running her wellness blog Veggies and Glitter, Casey Lindberg-Coghill is a freelance writer based out of Charlotte, NC.  Aside from being  a writer, Casey is also a huge bookworm and fashion enthusiast who has rather  unhealthy obsessions with Justin Timberlake and anything pumpkin-flavored.

 

Meal Planning Monday ~ Slow Cooker Comfort

Hello. It’s Heather popping in from Real: The Kitchen and Beyond. The dreariness of fall has hit in full force. I hear the rain falling outside as the damp seeps in. Fall is my favorite time to pull out slow-cooker meals. With school in session and fall activities starting up, there just never seems to be enough time and the first thing to go tends to be dinner time.

Besides the questionable healthiness of swinging through the fast food drive-thru, we also have the cost factor. With a family of 5, 3 of whom are growing children, fast food definitely isn’t very frugal. Having a meal plan and making it functional for busy days and evenings, ensures I hit that drive thru less. Freezer meals and slow cooked meals save the day and budget.

I have a new healthy favorite slow-cooker meal that is easy and packed with hidden veggies. After dinner I asked my thankfully not too picky eaters if they knew there was zucchini in it. (Tip one, puree it well and nobody will know.) This recipe will make two batches, filling two goals for me. One, a great healthy slow-cooker meal, and two, a freezer meal. The best part is this meal is egg-free for those who may be allergic to most lasagna dishes.

Chicken Sausage Zucchini Lasagna Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chicken sausage, cooked (I make them ahead of time in the oven then fridge for meals)
  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • 2 – 24 ounce cans crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups diced zucchini
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium sweet pepper
  • 32 ounces ricotta
  • 24 ounces mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic/3 cloved, diced
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil

Directions

  • Boil water and cook lasagna noodles to al dente, drain.
  • Finely chop sausage in food processor or blender with a bit of tomatoes, be careful not to puree.
  • Blend rest of tomatoes, zucchini, onions, peppers, and garlic in blender or food processor then mix with sausage.
  • Mix together ricotta and seasonings.
  • Put 2 cups of meat and veggie sauce mixture in bottom of pan.
  • Fill surface with one layer of noodles, slightly overlapping them.
  • Cover noodles with about 1/2 cup ricotta mixture.
  • Add another 2 cup layer of sauce.
  • Add another layer of noodles.
  • Add another 1/2 cup of ricotta.
  • Add one more layer of noodles.
  • Dot with ricotta mixture and 1/2 cup sauce.
  • Cover with 8 ounces of mozzarella.
  • Slow-cook on low for 4-6 hours. Should be ready at 4 hours.

For freezer meal:

  • Preheat oven to 325.
  • Using a 9 x 13 aluminum pan,
  • Start with a layer of noodles.
  • Add a layer of meat sauce, then ricotta.
  • Continue layering until all ingredients are gone.
  • Cover with 16 ounces mozzarella.
  • Bake for approximately one hour, or until cheese is golden brown.
  • Let cool.
  • Wrap with several layers of plastic wrap.
  • Wrap with foil.
  • Tape reheating directions to package.
  • Freeze.
  • Pull out to thaw in refrigerator about 1 day in advance.
  • Pull plastic off, replace aluminum foil, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes – 1 hour.
  • If still frozen, add 20-30 minutes, depending how frozen it is.

 

Here are four more great slow-cooker meals that will have dinner on the table almost as soon as you get home. The best part is that if you do most of the prep work the evening before or that morning it will really make dinner quick and easy.
  1. Chicken Tacos – shredded taco meat, tortillas, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and salsa
  2. Change up your traditional Chicken Noodle with this Chicken Couscous Soup.
  3. Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Cheesy Cauliflower Soup
  4. Slow – Cooker French Onion Soup + Slow Cooked Brats

 

Heather writes at Real: The Kitchen and Beyond where the food is (mostly) real and the making’s easy. She believes any one can cook. Just follow the steps, starting at #1. Read, follow, taste, venture out. Don’t be afraid to fail, then try again. Her other hats are homeschooling, editing fiction, ghostwriting, and culinary marketing. Oh, and she believes life is always better with dessert.

October ~ A Month of Meals

This week’s post is by Christine Luken.

Do you meal plan weekly or monthly?  I’ve tried it both ways and have come to the conclusion that it’s less stressful for me to meal plan monthly, since I only have to do it 12 times a year, instead of 52!  On numerous occasions, I’ve had people ask me to share my monthly meal plan so they can get some fresh ideas for their own meal plans.

October is going to be frightfully busy for me!  I start teaching Financial Peace University tomorrow, which is a nine-week class.  I’ve also been doing more financial coaching appointments in the evening lately.  That means plenty of FFY (Fend For Yourself) days on the calendar!  I’ll be batch cooking to stock the freezer with soups, chili, BBQ, and pasta for those busy evenings.  I also plan on baking during the weekends – homemade granola bars, pumpkin bread, zucchini muffins, and plum cake!  Here’s what I’m cooking in October.

Week One

 

Monday ~ Homemade vegetable soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.  There will be plenty of leftover soup to be frozen.

Tuesday ~ FFY – Financial Peace University.  Hubby will probably reheat white chicken chili for his dinner.

Wednesday ~ Breakfast for dinner: Omelets, hash browns, turkey sausage and fruit

Thursday ~ FFY – Financial Coaching.  Hubby will have to reheat a freezer meal.

Friday  ~ Spaghetti & Meat Sauce with salad.  I’ll make a double batch of the sauce and freeze the leftovers.

Saturday ~ Oven Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes and green beans.  I’ll also bake pumpkin bread sometime over the weekend.

Sunday ~ Using the leftover chicken meat from Saturday, and the chicken stock in the freezer, I’ll be making chicken soup.  Recently, I’ve been omitting the noodles and adding extra veggies, like peas, green beans, and corn.  We’ll round out the meal with crusty rolls and butter.

Week Two

 

Monday ~ Broiled or grilled chicken breasts with artichokes & tomatoes.

Tuesday ~ FFY – Financial Peace University.  I’ll put beef stew in the crock pot in the morning, so it will be ready when Nick gets home from work.

Wednesday ~ Loaded Nachos.

Thursday ~ Turkey Chili with salads.  Plenty of leftovers for the freezer!

Friday  ~ White Bean, Kale & Carrot Soup with beer bread.  This is a cheap, filling, meatless meal.  Thanks to my sister, Leah, for this recipe!

Saturday ~ I’m going to try my hand at making Chicken & Asparagus with Black Bean Sauce and serve it with brown rice.  It’s a more involved recipe than most of the ones I make on a regular basis, so I’m saving it for the weekend.

Sunday ~ Turkey and gravy with mashed potatoes and a veggie.  I’ll also bake a double batch of granola bars.

 

White Bean, Kale & Carrot Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cups chopped raw kale
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans white beans, undrained
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a stock/soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion; sauté until soft. Stir in broth, carrots, beans, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until carrots are almost tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add kale; cover and simmer for another 15 minutes or until kale is done, stirring occasionally.

Week Three

 

Monday ~ Spinach Stuffed Chicken. My freezer is packed with frozen spinach, so I’m trying to work it into my meals this month.

Tuesday ~ FFY – Financial Peace University.  Freezer meals for everyone!

Wednesday ~ Chicken & Potatoes in the crock pot – easy and delicious!  I’ll strain the juices left in the crock pot and freeze it because it makes awesome stock for chicken soup!

Thursday ~ Out to Eat for Dinner!  A well-deserved night off for me!

Friday  ~ Meatloaf with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, and broccoli.

Saturday ~ Rosemary Lemon Chicken in the crock pot with Parmesan potatoes and a veggie.  Make 5 balls of foil from 1’ x 1’ sheets and set the chicken on top of the foil balls inside the crock pot.  This keeps the skin from getting soggy.  I rub the chicken with olive oil, sprinkle it with rosemary and stuff it with lemon wedges, and cook it breast side down.

Sunday ~ Easy Cheesy Casserole and side salads.  The leftovers from this casserole freeze really well.  I also plan on making zucchini chocolate chip muffins.

Week Four

 

Monday ~ Spicy Shrimp & Tomatoes.  This can be served over rice or pasta, or with crusty rolls to dip into the tasty juices!

Tuesday ~ FFY – Financial Peace University.  Freezer meals for everyone!

Wednesday ~ Black bean soup with tortilla chips.  Fast, vegetarian, and leftovers freeze well.

Thursday ~ BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with sweet potato fries and a veggie.

Friday  ~ Chicken and mushrooms with white wine sauce over wild rice with garlic roasted cauliflower.

Saturday ~ Salmon and Steak with twice-baked potatoes and salad.

Sunday ~ Grilled Chicken Tenderloins with Hash Brown Casserole and green beans.  I’m also going to bake my favorite cake – Cardamom Plum Cake – just because!

 

 

 

Meal Planning Monday ~ Finger Licking Ribs

Great for the kids, tailgating parties, or just a weeknight meal.

This week’s Meal Planning Monday is by Christy Hoover of AWomanTheWorldDeserves.com.

I definitely cook for the season when planning out my meals and with the kids in the house I try to cook with them in mind as well. In the spirit of a filling weeknight meal and the wonderful season of football parties, I thought it would be fun to make some finger licking ribs.  Great for the kids, tailgating parties, or just a weeknight meal.

Now, these ribs have been cooked individually mainly due to the fact that when I cook a whole slab of ribs, my kids seem to not have mastered the importance of saving some for others. They will take half of the slab and not even think about how they have just finished off all of the meat, or that other people may be hungry.

 

Slicing Finger Licking Ribs

 

 

So to solve this problem, I have individually sliced the ribs so that they can see the portion control I have set for them. Well, I guess when it is finger licking, it is kind of hard to worry about things such as not overeating and saving some for others.

 

Sliced ribs in baking pan

Ribs are sliced and placed in baking dish.

 

 

Ribs are sliced and placed in baking dish.

Now all finger licking ribs need a good rub. Here is what I use:

  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp of granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp of Creole Seasoning (or seasoning salt)
  • 1/2 tbsp of chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp of cumin

Rub for Ribs

 

I begin to sprinkle the rub on the individually sliced ribs.

Sprinkling rub on ribs

 

Since finger licking ribs need a bit of loving, you actually have to rub it into the meat. Well, it is more of a massage method. :-)

 

Rubbing rub on ribs Ribs with rub in pan

 

The ribs are covered in foil and cooked in the oven for two hours on 350 degrees. Once they are tender, I take them out of the baking dish, drain the grease, and put the ribs in a pan on the stove with 1/2 cup of my favorite barbecue sauce and toss until all the ribs are coated. Once they are coated, I transfer for them to a serving bowl and sprinkle them with small slices of green onion. This is where the finger licking begins!

 

Ribs

 

I served these Finger Licking Robs with Pan Fried Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Apple Cider Glazed Sweet Potatoes. Here are some other delicious and easy meals that you would love to try!!!

Marinara Meatball Sliders

Juicy Boneless Leg of Lamb with Roasted Vegetables

Easy Chicken Piccata

Best Meatloaf Recipe Ever

 

Christy Hoover is a military wife and mother of two who loves sharing her love of cooking and relationship advice with anyone who will listen. You can gather the best tips on life, building strong relationships, and making meatloaf on her website,

 A Woman the World Deserves.

 

 

 

Five Must Try Pumpkin Desserts

This week’s post is by Amy Desrosiers of Savvy Saving Couple.

Now that autumn is upon us, the air is just a bit chillier here, and I’ve been finding it hard not to be busy in the kitchen. Pumpkins aren’t just for decorating; they make a mighty delicious ingredient for baking and cooking. In my house, we love pretty much pumpkin anything!  Muffins and cookies are so versatile, but adding the secret ingredient of pumpkin to them can make them especially appealing this season. Even things like oatmeal cookies can even be jazzed up with canned pumpkin to make them one hard to resist snack!

In the mood for some seasonal baking? Check out these five must-make pumpkin desserts for this fall. I have included two gluten-free options as well since we do have an intolerant family member. Regardless of the fact that they are sans wheat, they are still equally delicious!

Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Muffins:

These easy to bake mini-muffins have a chewy, soft, yet dense texture. Rolled in warm butter, and cinnamon and sugar, they become an awesome treat!

Soft Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies:

Love traditional oatmeal raisin cookies? Kick them up a notch by adding canned pumpkin. They are soft baked, and perfect with a glass of milk.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies:

These bite sized pumpkin chocolate chip cookies may be small on size, but they are jam-packed with flavor. The almond flour provides these cookies with a soft texture and moist taste.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Chip Muffins:

Love traditional pumpkin chip muffins but want a delicious gluten free alternative? Try these super moist “bumpy” pumpkin muffins for a convenient breakfast option.

Pumpkin Ice Cream:

Want to try the ultimate fall ice cream? You must make this pumpkin ice cream recipe because it is so easy, and oh my gosh good! The velvety texture and pumpkin spice taste are enough to make you want more!

Pumpkin Ice Cream Ingredients:

  • 1 can of pumpkin-not pumpkin pie filling
  • 1 & 2/3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2/3 cups of brown sugar

In a mixer, or large bowl mix all your pumpkin ice cream ingredients until well blended. Add the mixture to your ice cream machine, and blend until you reach a soft serve consistency. This recipe serves 8 people, and would make a wonderful addition to a slice of pumpkin pie.

Regardless of which recipe you try, they are all very easy and do not require a culinary degree. I hope you enjoy the start of the fall season with some good old pumpkin comfort foods.

 

Meal Planning Monday ~ Veggie Spaghetti

This week’s post is by Christine Luken.

As summer gives way to fall, I naturally start thinking about adding heartier dishes to my Meal Plan.  When it’s sweltering hot outside, rarely use the oven and depend on my grill, crockpot, and steamer.  So, as sad as I am about summer’s inevitable departure, I’m looking forward to giving my oven a good workout this fall and winter.  In fact, I’m baking a double-batch of yummy pumpkin bread as we speak!

Pasta is one of my all-time favorite meals, and I have quite a few variations I can choose from for my meal plan.  The only downfall of pasta is all those pesky carbs!  So, I was intrigued when I saw a review for the Super Swizz Spiral Slicer, or as I like to call it the “Veggie Pasta Maker”.

This handy little tool cuts zucchini and other veggies into thin spaghetti-like strips so you can sub them in for your carb-laden noodles.  I decided to try it and do half gluten free pasta and half veggie “noodles” with a nice hearty chicken and mushroom marinara sauce.  It was delicious!  Once you make your noodles, pour hot water over them to cover and let sit for 10 minutes.  Drain and serve like regular spaghetti!

As the weather cools down, I love making hot sandwiches with a nice cup of soup as a filling meal that chases the chill away.  I’m a big fan of the Hungry Girl website for healthy makeovers of my favorite restaurant dishes.  Nick and I both loved these Turkey & Artichoke Panini sandwiches!

I made the recipe even simpler by using the Laughing Cow cheese variety with the garlic and herbs already mixed in it. Nick’s not a fan of pepper and onions, so I used a thin slice of one of our garden fresh tomatoes instead.  Then I melted a little bit of butter and mixed in the rosemary to coat the outside of the sandwich before cooking.  Pair these sandwiches with a cup of soup for a bistro-worthy lunch or quick and easy supper!

For a great snack or as a part of your healthy breakfast, try some Blueberry Chia Pudding.  I found this great little recipe in First For Women magazine.  Take 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, 2 tablespoons of quick oats, and ½ cup of almond (or coconut milk) and combine.  Put in the fridge for ten minutes, and then mix in ¼ cup of fresh blueberries.  Chia seeds are rich in fiber and protein, which means they really fill you up!

The great thing about this recipe is that you can change up your add-ins and make it however you want.  You could add cinnamon, chopped apples, and pecans.  Or raisins, walnuts, and a dash of vanilla extract.  As the weather gets cooler, I’m going to try this as a hot cereal and heat up my almond milk on the stove before combining it with my oatmeal and chia seeds.

Nutritional Info:  Calories – 170; Carbs – 21; Fiber – 9; Protein – 5 grams

 

What are your favorite cool weather recipes?

 

Meal Planning Monday ~ Back to School Lunch Remix

This week’s post is by Kim Bergeron of Extreme Coupon Professors.

We have 180 days of school, that means 180 days of packing school lunches times 5 kiddos for me. Hmmm, how fun does that sound? With that being said, I plan on posting several tips this school year along with some creative, easy recipes. Hope it will make your school year a bit easier.

Let me get you started with a video HERE where I explain how to pack the lunches for a week in about 30 minutes. I get so many great emails by the middle of the school week from many happy moms.  Here are a few out of the P&J box ideas for you to try:
-Peanut Butter and Fruit Sandwich: replace jam with fresh sliced strawberries, bananas and/or blueberries. We like to use fruit swirl bread too.
-Peanut Butter and Jelly Ritz Cracker Sandwiches
-Make your own Uncrustables
-Peanut Butter and Jelly Waffle Sandwiches: replace the bread with your favorite flavored waffles or even pancakes
-Peanut Butter, Raisin and Granola Apple Sandwich
Let’s get away from sandwiches here and there, instead pack a child’s favorite- Homemade Chicken Nuggets. My kids love finding these in their lunches and it’s an easy lunch to put together.
Recipe: Cut your chicken breasts into cubes, bread them with Shake N Bake. We used the Pretzel Shake and Bake-the kids love it. Bake according to directions.  Slice Cheese Sticks in half the long way, core out an end of the cherry tomato and fit the cheese stick on top.
Another idea is to make Lunch Kabobs: cube the cheese sticks, rotate the chicken nugget, cheese cube and cherry tomato on the skewer.  Invest in a good thermal thermos for soups. We make Chicken Soup all throughout the school year.
Here’s my quick simple recipe: Use leftover chicken or cook up a couple chicken breast or thighs. Pour a carton of chicken broth in a pot and warm on the stove. Add your cooked chicken. Add veggies. I use diced carrots and usually 1/2 cup of corn. You can add some frozen mixed veggies if you choose. Then add your fun noodles such as alphabet pasta, bow ties or wheels. Cook until pasta is done.  Make your soup as hearty as you like it.  Pack a roll, soup crackers, goldfish crackers or Cheez-its. My kids like to add goldfish to their soup.
This is a tasty lunch for kids and it’s quick and easy to put together. We call these Inside Out Sandwiches.  We used Pillsbury Bread sticks, bake according to directions. When completely cooled, spread cream cheese on one side of the bread stick. We used veggie and chive cream cheese. We then take a slice of turkey, slice in half the long way, and twist it around your stick. I use one half of deli meat on each stick. Pack in a container and pack it in the lunch box.
One of my favorite pieces of advice is make it easy on yourself. Repeat the meals a couple times during the week and rotated your lunch menus every two weeks. This makes your grocery list easy for you, too.
I’m a wife, mommy and a lover of life enjoying everything from playing board games to cooking to traveling. Finding deals for our family has allowed us to do the fun things in life with enjoyment and less stress. When I find a deal I’ll always share it on my blog, Extreme Coupon Professors. Hop on over to see all the ways to save!