Sunday, January 31, 2010

Red Velvet Cake Balls

If you've never heard of or tasted Bakerella's cake balls, boy oh boy are you missing out! I first made these a couple of years ago for my birthday party and have been addicted ever since. Here's the thing, these are very addicting and this recipe makes A LOT! So make sure that you make these only when you plan on having lots of company, otherwise you will end up eating them all by yourself.

1 box red velvet cake mix
1 can crean cheese frosting
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
wax paper

Prepare the red velvet cake according to package instructions. After it has cooled, crumble it into little pieces and mix the cream cheese frosting well into it. Roll the mix into small balls and place on wax paper on a cookie sheet. Cool in the freezer for 2-4 hours or until balls are hard. Melt the semisweet chocolate chips in the microwave. Dip the balls into the chocolate and return to wax paper covered cookie sheet. Freeze for another couple of hours or until the chocolate has hardened.


  • Red velvet is messy! Be prepared for red all over the place!

  • Melt the chocolate chips a little bit at a time, otherwise they will harden and cool. Also, don't use a plastic bowl to melt them in, because the bowl will melt. Not that any of us would ever do that or anything. ;P

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Not So Texan Texas Chili

According to Philip, this is sooo not Texas chili. I honestly wouldn't know since I've never really tasted any before other than a bite here or there when he orders it at a restaurant. What I do know is that I really enjoyed this meal, found originally on my new favorite food blog. I made the mistake of giving Michaela a bowl of it while it was still a little too warm, so after taking one bite and proclaiming "Hot!" she refused to touch it. It is a very mild chili, so I think I'll try again tomorrow with leftovers.

18 oz ground beef, browned
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
10 oz sweet corn
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (or equivalent fresh)
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
8 oz water

Put all the ingredients in the crockpot, mix, and cook on low for 3-4 hours or on high for 5-6 hours.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Real World Wednesday - Toddler Milkshakes

If you have a kid who refuses to eat fruits or vegetables, this is a must-have recipe. After I got this idea from my sister-in-law, I started making this every morning for Michaela. It makes me feel good that even if she refuses all other food that day, she is still getting a few servings of fruit, veggies, calcium and fiber.

1 Banana
1/2 cup fresh Spinach
3-4 Strawberries
2 tablespoons ground flax seed and/or wheat germ
1/2-1 cup yogurt, plain or vanilla
2-3 cups Milk
any other fruits or veggies

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

  • You can really put anything you want in this shake. I have a friend who uses carrots, something I've been wanting to try. I always use bananas and strawberries, then look for seasonal fruits that are on sale to add in.
  • It usually takes Michaela the entire day to finish this. I pull this out first along with any meal or snack, then return it immediately to the refrigerator when she's done.
  • You can't taste the spinach because of the overwhelming flavor of the banana, however, it does sometimes turn the shake green. Since this can be off-putting to some kids, I would recommend using a cup that you can't see through. I use The First Years Insulated sippy cups, with the rubber valve on top cut out.
  • Adjust the amounts to your own taste. Sometimes I make enough for me to have a glass also.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mac And Beans

I've never been a big fan of boxed mac n cheese. When Michaela was first starting to eat finger foods, I would cook up some spiral pasta and melt cheddar cheese over it. She loved it but for some reason I stopped making it, probably during a phase in which she refused to eat it anymore (kids are tricky like that). Recently I've been looking for a healthy mac n cheese recipe that would please both Michaela and a more adult palate. Since Michaela is hit or miss with meat, I've been drawn to several mac n bean recipes because of the idea of added protein. I'm including a link to the recipe this is based on, even though it is no longer active. Take a look around, the rest of the blog is amazing! Michaela and I loved this, and Philip thought it was ok, which is all I can ask for.

6-7 oz small pasta shapes
1 15oz can Cannelini beans
1 15oz can crushed tomatoes
1 stalk celery, chopped fine
1 carrot, chopped fine
1/4 c onion, chopped fine
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
olive oil
6 oz cheddar or parmesan cheese, shredded

Prepare pasta according to package directions and drain. Meanwhile, saute celery, carrot, onion, and garlic in a small amount of olive oil until veggies are translucent. Add tomatoes and beans and cook 5-10 minutes more. Puree the tomatoe & bean mixture with vegetable broth in a blender or food processor. Pour sauce over pasta and top with shredded cheese.

Homemade Vegetable Stock

I had a whole tray of leftover veggies from Rafael's Baptism, so I decided to make some vegetable stock. I first got this brilliant idea here. What a great way to use up an excess of veggies that are destined for the trash can!

any veggies

Dump all your veggies in a crockpot. Add enough water to cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours or on high for 2-4. Strain out veggies and use broth as a base for beans, soups or any other dish that calls for vegetable stock.

  • If you plan on freezing this or anything else soup like, here's a simple tip. Pour the liquid into quart or gallon sized Ziploc's and then lay flat on a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer until soup is frozen. Then remove, and voila! You have a flat sheet of soup that is easily stackable and stores much more easily than a bulky container.
  • I felt bad throwing away the leftover veggie chunks, so I pureed and froze them to add later to dishes for an extra nutrient boost.

Egg McDrea's & Real World Wednesdays

The only problem with having a food blog that reviews other people's recipes is that I never get to share my own! So on Wednesdays, I'll be posting recipes of my own creation or that have been passed down from family or friends.

First up? Egg McDrea's.
These are super simple, easy, and delicious. My dad used to make this for my sisters and me growing up, and nowadays these are my go to meal when I don't have much time for anything else.

whole wheat English Muffins or bread
Cheddar Cheese
Bacon, Sausage patties, or other breakfast meat
Salt & Pepper

Toast bread. Meanwhile, prepare one egg as if preparing over-easy, except use your spatula to break the yolk. Flip the egg and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Make sure that all the yolk is cooked, you don't want it dripping out of your sandwich. Butter your toast and sandwich egg, cheese, and cooked meat in between. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cheese & Herb Stuffed Chicken

Oh. My. Goodness. Make this, eat it and love it! I'm not sure how healthy this is, but wow does it taste good! I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone to make it, but honestly it was not as hard to make as it sounded. My measurements for the ingredients might not be right, I just kind of added things without measuring until it looked good.
3 chicken breasts
4 oz goat cheese
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chives
1 small handful italian parsley
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons margarine
Kitchen string
Mix cheeses, chives, and parsley together. Butterfly the pieces of chicken and pound thin with a meat mallet or the bottom of a skillet. Spread a third of the cheese mixture lenthwise across the chicken breast and roll up like a burrito. Tie up with kitchen string and put in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Put the chicken in a casserole dish, presentation side up and pat all over with margarine. Bake in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165. Put drippings from casserole dish in a saucepan with the chicken broth and reduce until it has the consistency of a sauce. Pour a little bit over each piece of chicken and serve.
  • Use real parmesan cheese, not that nasty fake stuff from the green bottle.
  • Chives are the top of a green onion. I'm just telling you this because the original recipe called for scallions and I didn't know what they were so I bought green onions. So I'm using the word chive just so that you know that I'm smart. I know things. Yeah...
  • The original recipe calls for regular parsley but I bought Italian because it sounded fancier.
  • I didn't have any kitchen string so I used some regular string that I had in my craft closet. I normally wouldn't use this because most craft string is waxed and might melt all over the chicken, but this string didn't look waxed so I figured it was ok. I also read that unwaxed floss would work too.
  • I didn't have a meat mallet so I used a rolling pin. It was really refreshing to get all my frustrations out!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fruit & Yogurt Salad

This is more a snack idea than a recipe, inspired by two different blogs. I've been wanting to make this ambrosia salad for awhile, but never think about it till I really want it, so I never have the ingredients on hand. The other day I had a plate full of fruit so I decided to make a fruit compote and added some yogurt to make it creamy like the ambrosia salad. This is delicious! I used this as a side for our dinner (egg mcmuffins), but this would also be perfect as a light breakfast, healthy snack, or even as a dessert!
Fruit, cut up
vanilla yogurt, enough to cover the fruit
wheat germ
ground flax seed
Combine and serve!
  • I used bananas, kiwi, nectarine and apple.
  • This is a great base recipe, use whatever you have on hand to create a flavor you like!

Crockpot Pineapple Chicken

I had some leftover rice from the previous post, so I decided to make a chicken dish to go along with it. This sounded intriguing, and tasted ok, but didn't come out quite as I wanted. If you follow the suggestions below the recipe, I think this could be really tasty.

Chicken, enough for 4
20 oz can pineapple chunks, drained
1/4 c soy sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine everything in the crockpot and cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3. Serve with rice or over a bed of spinach.

  • I used frozen chicken thighs. I only had 3 so that's all I used. I think this was what caused all of my problems with this recipe. There wasn't enough chicken so the soy sauce was waaaay too overpowering. I would use 6 or 7 thighs next time for this amount of soy sauce. Also, I think it would be fun using 1/8c soy sauce and 1/8c of the pineapple juice.
  • All I had was pineapple slices, so I just diced those up and it worked just as well.
  • I had ground red pepper but not the flakes. Since it was ground, the flavor was really able to get into the chicken and made it really spicy (too spicy for Michaela to enjoy). I would not reccomend using the ground unless you really want a kick.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Crockpot Autumn Sausage Casserole

I've decided that my crockpot is one of the most under utilized tools I have in my kitchen. I found this recipe over a year ago on one of my favorite blogs and have been meaning to try it ever since. This was a perfect blend of salty from the sausage and sweet from the carrots and raisins. My husband wasn't a huge fan of it but Michaela ate half a bowlful so it was definitely a win!

1 lb sausage, browned
2 apples, chopped
1/2 c carrots, chopped
3 c long grain rice, cooked (I used a wild rice mix)
1/2 c raisins
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 c chicken broth

Add all the ingredients to the crockpot, mix well and cook on low for 5-7 hours or high for 3-4. Since everything is already cooked, you are basically allowing the carrots & apples to soften, and all the flavors to mix.

  • The bottom and sides burned a bit. Next time I would cook it for less time or add more chicken broth.
  • Make this dish a little bit healthier by using turkey or chicken sausage rather than pork.

Date Snacks

With only a handful of ingredients and no cooking or baking, these are quick, easy, healthy, and super delicious! They are based off a recipe for homemade Lara Bars that I found while looking for healthy snack ideas for Michaela & me. While these are perfect for a carb boost before or after working out, or even as a quick afternoon pick-me-up, I think these are definitely dessert worthy and significantly healthier than that candy bar you buy everytime you're in the checkout lane at the grocery store. (You thought no one knew did you?) :)

1 c dates
1 c dried cherries (or other dried fruit)
1 1/3 c chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pulse dates & cherries in a food processor until it forms a thick paste. Put mixture in a seperate bowl. Then chop your nuts finely in the same processor. Add the nuts and cinnamon to the fruit paste and knead until everything is well combined. At this point, I just rolled the mixture into several small truffle shaped balls and placed them in an airtight plastic container. The original directions call for them to be shaped into protein bar type rectangles, but I figured Michaela would be more likely to eat them if they were bite sized.

  • If you don't have a food processor, a blender, magic bullet or pampered chef style food chopper will work just fine. In fact, the dates are so sticky that if you don't have any of those and wanted to use a knife and a bit of elbow grease, you would be fine.
  • The originaly directions say to store these in the refrigerator to maintain their freshness but none of the ingredients are perishable and I prefer my snacks to be room temperature so they are sitting on my kitchen counter. Plus these things are so delicious, I don't think they're going to be around long enough for me to worry about maintaining their freshness!
I hope you enjoy these as much as we have! Be sure to check out the original post for variation ideas and to read about the nutritional benefits of dates!