Thursday, March 28, 2013

Coloring Eggs and Resurrection Cookies

It was such a nice day out that we did our eggs outside
Our Easter is all kinds of different this year.  It's our first Easter here in Vegas which means a new church, no family with us or family dinner and egg hunt, we actually have warm weather and daddy has to work.  BOO!  But as usual we make due and try to make new traditions. 
We decorated our Easter eggs together the other afternoon and had fun dipping our eggs and then covering them with stickers and sparkles.
Can you guess who's was who's?
After we did our eggs we ate pizza for dinner, took a walk around base together, let the kids play on at the park and then we made Resurrection Cookies.  It was such a great day (minus the part when our older 2 got in huge trouble for lying) of being together and celebrating Easter as a family.  Ending the day with the true meaning of Easter and teaching our kids through actions was really cool.  I found the Resurrection Cookie recipe/story in a cookbook I recently got from a dear friend and mentor.  It was a cookbook that came from our old church in Albuquerque.  I think we might be making this a yearly tradition though.  One that they will understand more and more as they get older.  What traditions do you do?

Easter Story Cookies (Resurrection Cookies)
Beating the nuts
1 cup whole pecans
1 tsp vinegar
3 egg whites
1 pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1 zip-lock bag
1 wooden spoon or rolling pin
strips of tape (2 or so per child)

Smelling the vinegar
-Preheat oven to 300 before starting.
-Place pecans in baggie and let the children beat them with a wooden spoon to break into pieces. Jesus was beaten after being arrested. Read John 19:1-3
-Let the children smell the vinegar as you place it in a mixing bowl.  Jesus was given vinegar on the cross when He was thirsty.  Read John 19:28-30
-Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life, Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11
-Sprinkle a little salt in each child's hands. Let them taste it, then brush the rest in the bowl. Salty tears were shed by Jesus' followers. Read Luke 23:27
-Add sugar. The sweetest part of the story is that Jesus loves us enough to die for our sins. He wants us to know Him. Read Psalm 34:8 and John3:16
Sealing the "tomb"
-Beat the mixer on high speed for 12-15 minutes or until stiff peaks form and the color is pure white like God sees us when our sins are cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3
-Fold in the broken nuts, drop by teaspoons on wax paper lined cookie sheets. These are like the rocky tomb where Jesus was laid. Read Matthew 27:57-60.
-Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Have each child seal the oven door with a piece of tape. Read Matthew 27:65-66
-God to bed. It's sad to leave the cookies in there overnight, Jesus' followers were in despair when He was sealed in the tomb. Read John 16:20,22

He is Risen!!!
-In the morning, open the oven door and give everyone a cookie. Take a bite. The cookies are hollow! The tomb is empty. He is Risen!! Read Matthew 28:1-9

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gluten Free Breakfast "Breads"

I will just apologize now for this, apparently, turning into a gluten free blog.  It was not my intention when I first started this, but it seems to be my new way of life.  So please bear with me as I get used to this new adventure and try to figure it out.  I'm on a mission to not completely change everything to make it difficult, but to try to do minor changes that make it easy for me to be able to eat things that the rest of my family eats.  I want to make things taste still like they always have, without the bloated belly.  I've been reading all sorts of blogs and info about gluten free eating, cooking and baking.  Just to let you know, I'm finding that just by cutting out any type of "wheat flour" makes the difference.  So that means no pastas, breads, crackers or flour tortillas for me.  I am choosing not to use only gluten free certified foods.  Keep that in mind if you are one that needs to.  That means I'm still using and eating regular Rice Crispies, corn tortillas and chips, oatmeal (I cannot live without oatmeal with this venture!) and other things like these.  I read a food label and if there is any kind of "wheat flour" I don't eat it or use it, but if it has a "whole grain corn flour" for instance I still will.  Make sense?
Muffins all fluffed and perfect
Ok, so I tried a few gluten free box mixes to see how they were.  The first was a muffin mix.  I had some blackberries that needed to be used so I made muffins out of them.  They turned out beautiful.  My kids liked them, but I on the other hand still remain unsure.  The texture for me was a little off.  I know that it isn't going to be the same, but I didn't like the grit texture I got.  They also weren't very sweet.  Maybe I just like my muffins more cupcake like, but I needed more sugar!

The next thing I tried was a Banana Bread recipe I found on Pinterest from Betty Crocker that used a box of gluten free yellow cake mix.  It, on the other hand, I really liked and enjoyed!  It had a much smoother texture than the muffins and it baked up nice and big.  I did find that I didn't need to bake it as long as they said to.  I don't know if it was my oven or not, but I pulled it out 15 minutes earlier then the recipe said and I think I could have even another 5 minutes.  Nonetheless it was good!  Again, my kids all like and enjoyed it too. 

Beautiful banana bread
Gluten Free Banana Bread
(From Betty Crocker)

1 box Betty Crocker® Gluten Free yellow cake mix 
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (2 medium) 
1/2  cup butter, softened 
3 eggs
1/2 cup chopped nuts, if desired                       


  • Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom only of 9x5-inch or 8x4-inch loaf pan with shortening.
  • In large bowl, beat cake mix, mashed bananas, butter and eggs with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan.
  • Bake 9-inch loaf 55 to 60 minutes, 8-inch loaf 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (Place sheet of foil over loaf to prevent over browning.) Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaf from pan; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool about 1 hour before slicing.
One of the first things I've tried were paleo pancakes.  I'm not quite ready to jump into a paleo diet, but there are some great recipes and blogs for it.  One of my favorites is Change of Pace.  She has some great recipes and ideas and even some great things for kids.  It doesn't hurt that she and I used to be inseparable when we were 5 years old either.  :)  Regardless, she is a rockstart in the kitchen when it comes to meal prepping and yumminess!  One of her favorite things is Paleo Pancakes.  I've tried these, and although they were very different from a good ol' fluffy pancake, I could eat them.  Then she posted Banana Bread Paleo Pancakes and these are now going to be my go-to pancakes.  I loved them!  In fact I think I ate them in about 5 seconds flat when I made them for the first time yesterday for lunch.  I was really craving something with more substance then a smoothie or rice cake, so I tried these.  Yum!  They are different then the regular Paleo Pancake in that they have almond flour too.  They gave the pancakes that little bit of extra substance and flavor I needed and wanted in a pancake.  What do you think?
5 seconds later they were gone...
1/4 cup mashed banana
1 egg
1 egg white
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 T chopped walnuts or pecans
butter for the top

Make sure your banana is mashed really well in a bowl.  Whisk in your egg, egg whites, almond flour and cinnamon.  Stir in your nuts.  Melt a tsp of fat (ghee or butter) in a pan on medium-low heat.  Pour in the pancake batter to form three (I got 4) small pancakes.  Let the pancakes cook for about five minutes on one side.  you don't want to try to turn them too soon or they will fall apart.  Low and slow is the key.  You may have to peek and see if they are ready to flip.  When they look golden brown, flip them over and let the other side cook for about two minutes.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pork Tenderloin to die for!

Bring on the food!  I made dinner for a few friends the other night and it was amazing!  (If I do say so myself!)  You ever have a meal that you look back at and just think, "Man, that was good!"  The funny part of it, was that it looked like a real fancy, hard meal, but really was quite easy to make and prep for.  I made Marinaded Pork Tenderloin, Twice Baked Potatoes and Fresh Green Beans with Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookies and Coconut Cream Pie for dessert.  YUM!  I was feeding a few crew chiefs so I knew that whatever I made had to feed a lot of guys that can pound down the food.  Here was my dinner...

This Pork Tenderloin recipe is my favorite.  It is a super yummy marinade and then you can either grill or roast your pork.  This time I roasted ours, but usually we grill them.  Kinda nice to be able to be versatile with a recipe sometimes.  The flavor from this marinade is so good and then the pan sauce you make to pour over it...  there are not words.  You have to try it!

Pork Tenderloin
(From Chef Mommy)
I made a double recipe.  After I let my meat rest, I sliced it
into about 1 inch pieces and put on platter to serve.
1⁄2 cups olive oil
1⁄3 cup soy sauce
1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp dry mustard
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1-lb. pork tenderloin (
silver skin removed)

Combine all marinade ingredients and reserve 2-3 Tbsp. Place the pork tenderloin and marinade in a Ziplock bag and let marinate for at least 3-4 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a hot skillet over medium-high heat, sear each side of tenderloin for 2-3 minutes. Place in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes or until the meat has reached 160 degrees. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.  (For grilling, grill your tenderloins over medium heat for about 20-30 minutes or until the meat has reached 160 degrees)

Pan Sauce:
Pan scrapings from pork tenderloin
1/2 cup of chicken broth
2-3 tbsp of pork marinade (thoroughly mixed)
1-2 tsp butter

Meanwhile, place the skillet back on the stove over medium heat. Add the chicken broth and scrape up all the browned pieces from the bottom of the pan. Add the marinade and let it boil down for 2-3 minutes. Add the butter and remove from heat stirring until butter has melted. Pour over the pork tenderloin.

My Fresh Green Beans were a new recipe I tried.  As you know I'm a huge fan of the Pioneer Woman.  She made these on a recent episode of her show and I thought they sounded amazing.  They were super simple with just a little bit of a different flavor.  Nice to have this recipe, especially since fresh beans are soon in season in abundance! 
These, too, I doubled.  They were delicious!
Fresh Green Beans
(From Pioneer Woman)
1 lb green beans
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons bacon grease (can substitute 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt (can substitute regular table salt; use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon)
Ground black pepper

Snap the stem ends of green beans, or cut them off in a big bunch with a knife if you’d like. Just don’t tell Granny. Melt bacon grease in a skillet over medium low heat. Add garlic and onions and cook for a minute. Then add green beans and cook for a minute until beans turn bright green. Add the chicken broth, chopped red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Turn heat to low and cover with a lid, leaving lid cracked to allow steam to escape. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until liquid evaporates and beans are fairly soft, yet still a bit crisp. You can add more chicken broth during the cooking process, but don’t be afraid to let it all cook away so the onions and peppers can caramelize.

For Twice Baked Potatoes I don't have an actual recipe I use.  I basically just bake the potatoes, let them cool enough to handle, cut them in half and scoop out the inside of the potato into a mixing bowl.  Then with the potato fillings I added 1 stick of melted butter, 4 oz cream cheese, 1/4-1/2 cup sour cream, salt and pepper to taste and added a mixture of milk and 1/2 &1/2 until I reached a good consistency.  Then I added about 1/2-3/4 cup of shredded cheddar into the potato mixture.  Spooned the mashed filling into the potato shells, placed on a cookie sheet, topped with more shredded cheddar, covered with foil and put into the fridge until I was ready to bake them.  Baked them at 350 for about 45 minutes (30 minutes if you don't refrigerate) or until they are heated through.  So good!  You can add bacon or chives or green onion on top or anything else you want for that matter.  Great to freeze too!

Here is what they look like after they're baked.  Smell so good.
Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookies, I got the idea from White on Rice Couple from Pinterest.  They give you a link for a chocolate chip cookie recipe, but I just use my own.  I usually make a batch of cookie dough, separate into oven proof cups/ramekins or whatever you are going to use and either refrigerate until you are going to bake them or bake right away.  I bake them at 375 for about 20 minutes or until the center is just set.  You want them to be soft and gooey, but also want the dough to have cooked too.  I freeze them alot and then my hubby and I will treat ourselves to them after the kids are in bed  on occasion.  But a real simple and classic dessert, with a different twist on it.

So proud of my pie!  :)
Last, but certainly not least, my Coconut Cream Pie.  Since I've been watching my gluten I couldn't eat the cookies and still wanted to have a dessert.  I made this pie (I still used a regular crust, I just didn't eat it.  I only ate the filling.) completely from scratch!  Surprisingly, it was so much faster and easier then I thought it would be.  I used my trusty Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook.  This is my go-to cookbook that have.  It has everything in it from super basic how to make an egg to super fancy stuff.  I followed the recipe exactly and it came out beautifully and delicious!  Although, this was probably the hardest dish I made for this dinner, it still wasn't that difficult.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Frito Pie

I don't know about you, but my kids all go through different picky stages with food.  I feel like I can never keep up.  Right when I think I have them figured out, they decide they don't like that kind of cheese anymore.  Ugh!  It gets so frustrating, and sometimes just plain annoying!  We are proponents of either you eat what you're given for dinner or you don't eat again until breakfast.  Call it harsh if you want, but we gotta draw a line somewhere.  If it's a dinner I know they won't eat, then I'll make them something else that they will.  
So, to my surprise, the other night I tried a new recipe, and guess what?  Everyone liked it!  Score!  I made Frito Pie.  It was different, easy and, like I said, everyone liked it!  It's got this simple homemade chili that is seasoned with taco seasoning.  I used my own taco seasoning mix.  I'm a jar saver and like to make my own mixes when I can.  :)  Then the chili is topped with sour cream, Frito chips and cheese.  How can that not be good, right? 
This would be a perfect thing to take to a pot-luck, make for game day or, like I did, for dinner for something new.

Frito Pie
(From Sweet Treats and More)
I used 1/2 the can of tomato sauce
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 can (16 oz) chili beans
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 envelope low sodium taco seasoning (I used my taco seasoning, recipe below)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (2% fat kind)
Here's the cheesy chili part
3 1/2 cups corn chips (Frito's) (I used the big scoops, but either one's would work)
1 1/4 cup fat free sour cream
Cook ground beef until meat is browned; drain. Stir in beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, taco seasoning mix and 1/4 c. of cheese. Sprinkle 1 cup corn chips in bottom (I used closer to 2 cups of chips on the bottom) of 8x8 baking dish or 9x13 dish. Cover with chili. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Spread sour cream over chili. Top with remaining corn chips and cheese. Bake 4-5 minutes longer.
Taco Seasoning
1 cup minced dry onion
1/2 cup chili powder
1/4 cup garlic powder
One thing I've learned from the Pioneer Woman is to buy better
cheese by the block and grate it myself.  So much better!
1/4 cup cumin
2 T oregano
2 T salt
2-3 T red pepper flake (optional)
1 T paprika (optional)
Mix all together and store in an air tight container or jar.  Use 2-3 T in place of 1 envelope of taco seasoning as needed. 
*Note: When making seasoned ground beef for tacos, you may want to sprinkle in 1 T of flour or cornstarch to help thicken it a bit.

Ready to go in the oven!

I couldn't wait to dish it out that I forgot to take a picture
before I made some plates.  :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

We're Having Cookies for Breakfast!

Who can resist cookies for breakfast?!  I found this recipe on Pinterest for breakfast cookies, it came from Yummy Mummy Club.  What I like about this that made it interesting is that it is an oatmeal base, but doesn't have eggs or flour or peanut butter in it to hold everything together.  They turned out much tastier then I expected too!  I feel like you can only give your kids a quick breakfast of cereal or pop tarts so many times, so this was a breath of fresh air.  I threw them together super fast between appointments one morning, and in about 20 minutes they were completely done.  They were flavorful, soft and everyone likes them!  I will say though, when you open the container you store them in, they kinda have a funky smell from the banana/raisin mixed smell. 
As the Yummy Mummy says, I'll now gather my mom of the year sash for serving cookies for breakfast to my kids. 

My son, getting in there to show that cookie who's boss!
Even the picky 2 year old like them!  Hooray!

Breakfast Cookies

Gathering my ingredients
3 ripe bananas
2 cups uncooked, quick-cooking oats (has to be quick oats for them to be soft and not as crunchy)
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce (or one of those hand snack-sized ones) (I used cinnamon applesauce and then didn't add the extra cinnamon below.)
1/4 cup skim milk  (I used 2%)
1/3 cup raisins (if not using chocolate chips use 1/2 cup raisins)
1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. brown sugar

Letting the mixture sit for 5 minutes helps the oatmeal
 soften for a better "cookie" outcome.
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Mix in the remaining ingredients and blend well with wooden spoon.
Let mixture stand for at least 5 minutes to allow oatmeal to moisten.  (This is key to these cookies!)
Drop dough by approx. 2 tablespoons-full onto baking sheet (I used my large baking scoop for easy measuring). Flatten slightly with the back of your spoon.
Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and let cool completely on rack

I got a perfect baker's dozen :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Energy Balls!

I have found that one of my favorite "healthy" snacks and dessert are these little energy balls.  They have a little bit of everything in them and you can change the flavor to different things, kinda like a granola bar.  I first made these last summer and we all liked them.  They got put on a back shelf and I didn't make them again until a couple weeks ago.  Then, I couldn't stop eating them!  You don't need to bake them or cook anything on the stove either.  You just measure and mix, roll and chill.  The original recipe from Gimme Some Oven is for chocolate peanut butter (I think you're getting that peanut butter is my weakness).  Then I tried white chocolate cranberry and they are just as good!  I really do think that the possibilities are endless!  Just substitute the 1/2 cup chocolate chips for 1/2 cup of some other mix-ins.  I used 1/4 cup of each cranberries and white chocolate chips for white chocolate cranberry.

Dump and mix, my kind of treat!
Energy Balls
  • 1 cup (dry) oatmeal (I used old-fashioned oats)
  • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional) (I use the mini ones)
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.  (I never do this, I use a small cookie scoop and put them on a sheet pan, then chill before I put them together in a container.) Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. (Mine were about 1" in diameter.) Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Makes about 20-25 balls.
The original way.  These little balls are so good!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Peanut Butter and Buffalo... The world is happy :)

I have always used my slow cooker alot, but it seems like any more that this is really getting a work out!  This weekend we stayed in a hotel suite with my parents down on The Strip.  To help save time and money on food, I took along 2 of the freezer meals I had made a few weeks ago.  They turned out great and it was so nice not to have to worry about dinner.  They were also GF meals which made it even better for me!  I made another one last week and it was so good!  Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches, they were a huge hit!  For me, I ate it over a little rice and it was still just as good.  :) 

This was my hubby's plate with a sandwich, veggie cup
and peanut butter ball :)
I made these sandwiches for my hubby and his buddy when they were working on his truck.  I cut up celery and carrots to put in a cup with ranch dressing on the bottom (This was good for their grimy hands and would be great for kids or parties too!). 
Then I tried another new recipe... Peanut Butter Balls.  Oh. My. Goodness.  This delicious ball of goodness is my new best friend (well, not to my butt!)  Anyone that knows me, knows that peanut butter is my weakness.  I love it in any way on or in anything. In fact I have a pinterest board devoted to only peanut butter called Peanut Butter is Food Group. I was watching Trisha Yearwood's cooking show and she was making these and I thought they sounded wonderful.  So I made a batch.  Then 3 days later I made another.  They are that good.  Super easy and, yes my friends, GF!  So, anyone else love peanut butter as much as me??

Sorry for the blurry photo, it wasn't
uploading right, but here they are!
Peanut Butter Balls
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 white corn syrup
  • 2 cups crunchy peanut butter (I didn't have crunchy peanut butter, so I used 1 1/2 cups of creamy peanut butter and chopped up 1/2 cup of peanuts)
  • 4 cups rice cereal
In a large saucepan, stir the sugar and the syrups together over medium heat. Remove from the heat and quickly add the peanut butter, continuing to stir until the mixture is fully combined. Add the rice cereal and mix well. Shape the mixture into palm-size balls with your hands. Transfer to waxed paper. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.