Thursday, June 21, 2012

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Instead of coming up with another recipe for these oh so amazing chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, I just used my original chocolate chip cookie recipe and added oats.  I mean, why mess with perfection?  Yes, I do believe that my chocolate chip cookies are absolute perfection.  And, in case you missed them when I posted that recipe awhile back, here's the new and improved version, with oats!  It's a toss up to which ones we like better in my household.  A tip - definitely do not over bake these.  Take these out just when you think they are almost done, that's when they are the best - they should still look a little gooey in the middle.  

Makes about 4 dozen

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature (2 sticks)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups old-fashion oats
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add egg and beat until combined, then add vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda.  Slowly incorporate dry ingredients into the batter and beat until completely mixed in.  Add oats and mix again.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Using a small cookie scoop, drop dough onto a cookie sheet and bake for 13-14 minutes until starting to turn a little golden in color.  Cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.  

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Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad

I'm revisting my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and am really trying to cook as much as possible from them.  I have so many cookbooks and feel like I'm constantly using the internet to get inspirations for recipes and I hardly use them!  The first time I had roasted tomatoes was at my mom's house, who purchased them from one of those antipasto bars in a high end grocery store (you know the ones that have olives, artichokes, mozzarella balls, etc) and I could not stop eating them!  The flavor just gets so concentrated, but different than a sun-dried tomato.  Remembering that I saw Ina Garten roast tomatoes on her show, I knew I had to try it out at home.  I was not dissapointed!  We were eating these right off the tray when they came out of the oven and had to restrain ourselves so I could make this salad, which needless to say was amazing.  I love a good Caprese salad, it's probably one of my most favorite meals EVER, but the flavor of these caramelized tomatoes just put this right over the top.  Like Ina says, tomatoes with the volume turned up (LOVE her!!). 

Just a side note, I've also read where she does these at 475 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Much faster, so whatever your time allows for (this recipe takes 2 hours to roast).

Serves 6 (unless you're my family) :)

12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
16 oz fresh mozzarella
12 fresh basil leaves, julienned

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Sprinkle the garlic, sugar, salt and pepper over the tomatoes.  Roast for 2 hours until the tomatoes are concentrated and begin to caramelize.  Allow the tomatoes to cool to room temperature.

Cut the mozzarella into 1/2 inch slices, cutting in half again in they are bigger than the tomatoes.  Layer the tomatoes alternately with the mozzarella and sprinkle with basil.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Serve at room temperature.  

(Souce:  Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics)

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ranch Barbecue Chicken Pizza

I think I could eat barbecue chicken on just about anything...and I think I have!  Nachos, in egg rolls (click here for that recipe), sandwiches, and now pizza.  I made stromboli over the weekend and I had some extra dough to make pizza some night this week.  Have you tried my recipe for pizza dough yet?  It's so simple and makes enough for 2 pizzas.  Love, love, love having it around for a quick weeknight meal.  

Back to this pizza...what is better than barbecue chicken you ask?  How about spicy barbecue chicken with a hint of ranch?  Ta-da!  My husband and I ate the whole thing last night, yup, just the two of us.  We were lucky enough to have both kids in bed before 8.  It was heavenly.  I don't remember the last time we had an evening to ourselves like that ~ probably 7 1/2 months ago before Max was born.  Funny thing is that I think we were both asleep around 9.  

1 pound of pizza dough
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
2 teaspoons spicy Montreal steak seasoning
1/2 cup barbecue sauce, divided (we use Sweet Baby Ray's) plus more for drizzling
1/4 ranch dressing, plus more for drizzling
1 1/2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese (or whatever you like - Monterey Jack or cheddar, etc)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll out pizza dough into a circle (for a pizza stone - you can also do this on 11x18 baking sheet, then you'll need to roll out a rectangle).  While your pizza stone is getting hot in your oven, start making your chicken.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a medium skillet and heat over medium heat.  Add chicken and grill seasoning and cook until done throughout.  Take off heat and add 1/4 cup barbecue sauce to the chicken,stir until combined and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the other 1/4 cup barbecue sauce with the ranch dressing.  Once your oven is preheated, remove your pizza stone and place your rolled out dough on top.  Top pizza dough with your barbecue sauce/ranch dressing mix leaving about an inch border around the edge.  Top with chicken and cheese.  Drizzle extra barbecue sauce and ranch dressing across the entire pizza.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and the pizza dough crust is a golden brown.

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Ooey Gooey S'mores Brownies

I'm not kidding when I call these Ooey Gooey.  They are a sticky, sticky mess, especially when warm.  But so worth it!  And I means, s'mores aren't the neatest thing to eat anyway, right?  You'll love the little bites of chocolate chips in between the layers.  And for those of you that saw the preview of these on my Facebook page, sorry for the delay in getting these on the blog.   My time is so consumed by feeding my little Max monster lately...he eats non-stop!  I made a ton of baby food yesterday, oatmeal, a blackberry sauce and fruit smoothies, so I should have a little time to kind of get caught up for myself.  Yay!  More treats to come.  I hope you'll enjoy these for now.  I know my family did...we couldn't stop eating them.  

Makes 12 large brownies

1 box of brownie mix, plus ingredients needed to make brownies (eggs, oil, water, etc)
8-10 honey graham crackers
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 of a bag of mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray and lay the graham crackers along the bottom (you will have to break some in half to make them fit, just make it work any way you can). Prepare the brownie mix according to the box's directions and pour batter over the graham crackers.  Bake until the brownies are just set, 25-30 minutes (check your box for times).  Take brownies out of the oven and set your oven to broil.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the brownies, then evenly cover the top with the marshmallows.  Broil for about 30 seconds to a minute until the marshmallows are melted and a little charred.  Don't walk away, this happens very fast!

Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes.  Cut into squares with a very sharp knife, dipped in water between each cut.  This will prevent the knife from sticking to the marshmallows, because believe me it will. Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Banana and Peaches Smoothie

I'm having a blast trying new and interesting food ideas for Max.  I found this recipe in a baby food cookbook and was pleasantly surprised that this turned out to be more like a frozen yogurt than a smoothie.  Max loved it, of course (there hasn't been a single thing that I've introduced that he has not inhaled) and it made a little over 2 cups so we have extra in the freezer and fridge.  If you have a toddler at home, this is a great snack right out of the can tell them it's ice cream!  :)  Also, if your baby is at an age where he or she is using a sippy cup, let this melt a little after you first make it and put it in a cup...then it truly is a fruit smoothie (this way it's also not so cold for them).  Or if it's easier, just use room temperature fruits.    

Makes 2 cups

1 frozen banana, sliced into 1/2 slices
1 cup frozen peaches, peeled and sliced 
1/2 cup whole-milk yogurt (not low fat or fat free)
1 tablespoon wheat germ

Put bananas, peaches, yogurt and wheat germ in a blender and blend until smooth.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days, or the freezer for up to 3 months.  


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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Homemade Applesauce

I made this applesauce this morning for Max and he scarfed it down!  And honestly, it's not just for babies...Jules, my 2 1/2 year loved it and I must say, it is pretty good!  And so good for you and your family!  Nothing to it...apples and cinnamon.  That's it.  I used a potato masher to mash the apples, but you can also use a food mill if you own one, or a food processor to really puree them.   

Makes 1 1/2 cups

2 apples, peeled, cored and diced (your choice - I used red delicious)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Fill a medium saucepan with about an inch of water and bring to a boil.  Place steamer basket on top of boiling water and add apples.  Cover tightly with lid.  Steam for about 10 minutes until the apples are tender, but not too mushy.  Mash or puree, whichever you're little one can handle.  Add cinnamon and stir to combine.  

Store for up to 3 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer.

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Berry Berry Muffins

I am not a huge blueberry fan, unless they're in a muffin (love blueberry muffins) or pancakes or something that makes them sweeter.  By themselves, they are just too tart for me.  I had a pint of blueberries that was given to me and was all set to make plain ol' blueberry muffins when I came across Ina Garten's Tri-Berry Muffins.  Minus the strawberries (which I really don't like either - unless it's like a fake strawberry flavor in a candy or something...I know, it's strange), these looked fantastic.  I do love raspberries - finally, you say! - so I bought a pint of those and got to work.  I pretty much followed her recipe to a tee, omitting the strawberries but making up for it with additional raspberries and blueberries.  I also didn't realize that I was out of paper liners (don't you hate that??) so I used just used a non-stick cooking spray in the pans and the muffins popped right out.  Although I would have liked the look of them with the liners...

Makes 16-18 muffins

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Barefoot Contessa Ultimate Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting Mix
1 1/4 cups milk 
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 1/2 cups sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon until combined.  In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs and butter.  Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.  There will be lumps but don't over mix.  Fold in the berries and sugar.  

Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, spoon the batter into the liners in the muffin tins.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Peach Puree with Mint

Even though I am staying at home with my kiddos, I still felt like there was no time for me to make fresh baby food for Max like I did for Jules.  So, my husband and I came up with a plan to make on a Sunday morning, make all the food for that week or even month and just be done!  And that's what I did.  I also took some short cuts like using frozen peaches and peas so I literally had to open the bag, steam and puree.  It takes minutes!!  If you want to use whole peaches, you don't even have to peel them.  Just cut them into slices, steam and the peel with come right off.  Then puree.

I decided with the peaches that I was going to add a little something extra, so I grabbed some mint from our garden.  I just washed it and threw the leaves right into the food processor.  He loved it!  Although he has loved everything so far...he's our big boy and a big eater.  :)  As far as storing, I use those little plastic 1/2 cup Glad containers.  I freeze most of it and put one of them in the fridge for the next couple of days.  It's perfect for portions because Max will eat about 1/4 cup at a sitting.  

Makes 2 cups

1 bag of frozen peaches (or about 4 peaches)
2 mint leaves

Fill a saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil.  Add peaches and cover, reducing heat to a simmer. Steam for about 5-7 minutes until the peaches are tender.  Put the peaches and mint into a mini food processor (I use the one that came with our immersion blender) and puree until smooth.  

Store in the fridge for up to 3 days or freezer for up to 3 months.    

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Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

I wish I had a better picture for this soup!!  It was a cloudy day and I just could not get a good picture anywhere!  Take my word for it, this is delicious.  And done in the Crock Pot, which I love!  I used a frozen chicken breast so if yours is already defrosted, it might not even take as long.  You can also not use the immersion blender, but my husband doesn't really like "chunky" onions and peppers.  Using the immersion blender right in the Crock Pot made this smooth and creamy.  Serve with really good bread or tortilla chips!  

Serves 6-8

1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 cup canned or frozen corn (drained if from a can)
1 can cream corn 
1 cup diced bell pepper 
1/2 onion, diced
1 10 oz can Original Rotel
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon cumin 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Place chicken breast in the bottom of the Crock Pot.  Add corn, peppers, onions and Rotel.  Pour in the chicken broth followed by all the seasonings.  Stir to combine and cook on low for 5-7 hours until the chicken breast is fully cooked.  

Once chicken is done, remove and shred, set aside.  Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it becomes creamy (your call on how smooth you want this).  Place chicken back in the Crock Pot, stir and taste for seasoning.  You may need to add more salt, pepper, even cumin at this point. Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, June 4, 2012

Light and Easy Margaritas

I'm back!!  Did you miss me?  :)  I was visiting friends and family in Pennsylvania for two weeks and am so happy to be getting back to blogging!  We had an exhausting weekend...drove all day Saturday to get from PA back to Savannah - with 2 kids mind you.  A 2 1/2 year old and 7 month old.  Yup.  We're nuts.  Took us 14 hours, and it was painful.  If we hadn't gotten in so late on Saturday, I absolutely would have made this drink that night after the drive.  Instead, I made a great dinner on Sunday, Shrimp Tacos (stay tuned!) and these margaritas were just the right match.  I adapted this recipe from here, but it only had the recipe for an individual drink.  I mean, who are they kidding, right?  I had to play around with it to make a batch because when I just doubled or tripled everything it was way too sugary and sweet.  My pitcher version of these is so good and refreshing.  We love ours with salt, but you can obviously omit that.  Cheers!! 

Serves 4-6

4 cups Spite Zero (or Diet)
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of lime juice (fresh or from the bottle - I've used both with no taste difference)
2 tablespoons lemonade mix (I used Country Time, but you can use Crystal Light for an even lighter drink!)
4-5 oz of Tequila 

Combine Sprite, lime juice and lemonade mix in a pitcher.  Stir to combine and add Tequila.  Stir again.  Pour salt out on a plate and wet the rim of your glass, dip in salt.  Fill your cup with ice and pour the margarita.  Enjoy!  

(Source:  Adapted from finallychelle on My Fitness Pal)
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I'm a super busy mom of 3 and a Beachbody coach. Follow along as I try to find a balance between eating good food and keeping my family healthy and happy! We eat mostly clean with a few fun treats thrown in every once in awhile. Thanks for stopping by!

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