I like to set goals. It’s my thing. Even if it’s tiny and insignificant, I’ll still try my hardest and do everything I can to achieve it. I’ve done it all my life, and I’m sure I’ll do it the rest of my days. Some big (really big!) goals I’ve set for myself over the years have been college (private school isn’t cheap, and my goal was to get as many scholarships as I could to help out), grad school, singing with Fort Worth Opera, Joel (probably the greatest achievement of my life!), and so many more! Nowadays, my goals tend to be more family-related, such as putting healthy, homemade meals on the table at least 5 nights a week. It’s a challenge, but it’s definitely doable! Especially with quick and easy meals like this one!
This is actually an old recipe from a few years back, but since it’s one of our favorites, I thought it could use some updating. This is as simple a dish as they come and comforting and hearty to boot. Like I said, it’s a family favorite and I make it all. the. time. Cassidy loves it.
Beefy Noodle Bake
1 1/2 pounds lean, ground beef
1 can diced tomatoes (14 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups non-fat Greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup onion, chopped
8 ounces egg noodles
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Meanwhile, brown the beef and onion in a large skillet over medium heat; drain fat. Add tomatoes, salt, sugar and black pepper; reduce to low heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Combine Greek yogurt (or sour cream) and cream cheese in a bowl; mix well and stir into the beef mixture.
Place the noodles in a greased 9×13 baking dish and top with the beef mixture. Top with cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes, until bubbling. Serves 6.
Recipe source: heavily adapted from Gooseberry Patch ‘Best Ever Casseroles’
It’s pretty hard trying to be healthy when you’re a recovering sweets-aholic. I’ve been almost 100% good over the past few months, but to be perfectly honest, most days I find myself daydreaming about giant slices of dark, dreamy, moist, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting (seriously- have a look at my pinterest boards…). So what’s a girl to do when those (really, really) bad cravings hit?? Recipes like this one save my life!
I love Greek yogurt anyway, but add in smooth peanut butter, vanilla, and mini chocolate chips, and mama’s HAPPY, y’all! I really love this little trick- it satisfies even my worst cravings and helps keep me on track. Plus, the added protein in my diet helps me burn fat and stay satisfied longer! Double win!
Cookie Dough Greek Yogurt
1 small container (6 oz.) plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips
1 tablespoon agave nectar, honey, or other sweetener of choice
Mix peanut butter, vanilla, sweetener, and chocolate chips directly into yogurt cup. Eat immediately. Serves 1.
Recipe source: my fridge food
I don’t know about you guys, but one of my favorite things about summer is the fresh corn on the cob. Our grocery store will usually have them for around 5 for a dollar, so I stock up! We grill them, roast them, make salads, casseroles and all kinds of awesome dishes. But right now, fresh corn on the cob isn’t in season, so I’m stuck with frozen. Luckily, I found this tip about how to make oven roasted corn using frozen kernels. I was so intrigued I just had to try it.
I’m not going to say it’s as sweet and awesome as fresh-off-the-cob, but hey, in a bind, it works great! I added in some red and green peppers and my family gobbled it up!
[Short Cut] Oven Roasted Corn
1 bag frozen corn kernels
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the frozen corn with olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread on a baking sheet in an even layer. Roast for about 10 minutes until corn begins to blister slightly. Serve immediately.
Recipe source: adapted from Bev Cooks
I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone who reads this blog: I love sweets. Rich, decadent desserts are my thing. Give me a big plate of warm chocolate chip cookies or brownies or chocolate cake and I’m a happy girl. BUT eating all the sweets you want doesn’t really fit into a post-partum way of life. Joel and I are both working really hard on watching what we eat, plus now that Cassidy eats whatever we eat, I’m super picky about what I cook. I don’t want her growing up eating junk food, so I’ve been working really hard at cooking healthy, all-natural meals the whole family can enjoy. But what about my poor sweet tooth?? Am I supposed to just give up sweets cold turkey? I say no.
That’s why I LOVE recipes like this- they incorporate something super good for you, while satisfying the old sweet tooth at the same time! Win-win! I’m not going to lie and say you can’t detect the avocado in this pudding- you can (barely). But for an avocado lover like me, I thought it was awesome. SO smooth and creamy! It honestly tastes so decadent and rich; nothing like you would expect “health food” to taste. Joel and I were both wowed by this pudding and I’ll be making it again and again. And while I’m on this little health kick, maybe next I’ll try black bean brownies!
Avocado Chocolate Pudding
2 ripe medium avocados, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup raw agave nectar or honey
1/2 cup milk (regular or almond milk, coconut, etc.)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Blend all ingredients, until smooth, in a food processor or blender. Serve immediately or chill first. Serves 2-3
Recipe source: my friend Nikki at Seeded at the Table; originally from Forgiving Martha
Ok, I realize “World Nutella Day” was yesterday, but better late than never, right?
This is possibly one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever posted, considering every ingredient is store-bought. But hey, sometimes life can get a little crazy and you just need a recipe like this. All it takes is canned crescent roll dough, nutella, and sugar, and in minutes you’ll have a warm, gooey, comforting snack, breakfast, or dessert. Yes, please! These would actually be really cute (and quick!) for the kids’ Valentine’s Day breakfast- maybe even use a little pink decorating sugar and it’s just downright festive!
Quick and Easy Nutella Crescents
1 can refrigerated Pillsbury crescent roll dough
sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread a little nutella (about one tablespoon per triangle) on each triangle of dough. Starting with the big end, roll into a crescent shape and sprinkle generously with sugar. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately. Makes 8 crescents.
Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original
Packing sucks. I think pretty much every person in the entire worlds knows this. For me, it’s not so much putting my things in boxes, but having a mess everywhere I turn and not being able to easily walk through my own house without tripping over a giant box. That’s the part I hate. Izzy hates it all. She hates us moving, she hates the packing, the boxes everywhere, and the general stress that goes along with moving. Poor doggie. I keep telling her she’s getting a huuuuge backyard upgrade, but I don’t think she cares at the moment.
Cassidy, on the other hand, is still happy as a clam. She doesn’t care that we have a ga-jillion more boxes to pack…when it’s playtime, it’s PLAYTIME, people! Hmm, maybe that’s why I don’t seem to have gotten anything done….
That’s where these simple pizzas come in. There is ZERO time for cooking when there are boxes to be packed. I just don’t have time to spare in the kitchen. Not to mention, all my pots and pans are packed. I used whole wheat bagel thins for these and they were really good- I like the bread-to-topping ratio. I can see a lot of these in our future once we move. There’s nothing easier, and they’re pretty darn tasty too!
2 whole wheat bagel thins (or regular bagels, if you prefer)
shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 a green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced
thinly sliced button mushrooms
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lay the bagel halves in a single layer on a cookie sheet and toast for 5 minutes. Remove from oven.
Spread bagel thins with marinara and top with the vegetables, salt and pepper, then the cheese, using as much of each ingredient as you like. Place back in the oven for an additional 8-10 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serves 2.
Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original
I have to admit, it’s been over six months since giving birth to Cassidy and I’m still having trouble losing the last bit of weight. We’ve been watching our portions and trying (TRY-ing) to cut back on sweets. However, for me, this proves veeeerrrry difficult…I can’t be expected to quit cold turkey! That’s why recipes like this make me happy- I still get my sweet fix, but I don’t have to feel so guilty afterwards!
This one couldn’t be easier- a box of angel food cake mix and a can of crushed pineapple. I loooove angel food cake, and the addition of pineapple makes it even yummier! Just bake it up in little cupcake liners and you have the perfect portion sizes! (of course, then, you’ll have to practice a little self control and not eat 12…..).
Pineapple Angel Cakes
1 box angel food cake mix
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir the pineapple into the cake mix and pour into cupcake pans lined with cupcake liners (you’ll have enough batter to fill around 24 cups).*
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Cool before serving. Serves 24.
*You can also bake in a 9×13 pan or a tube pan.
Recipe source: adapted from allrecipes.com
We’re all familiar with chicken parmesan- a breaded chicken cutlet topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. A lot of people’s favorite “Italian” dish. I’ve never been much of a fan, for whatever reason. This recipe, however, I’m a HUGE fan of! It’s basically just a vegetarian version of chicken parm; and it’s soooo much better, in my opinion. I love mushrooms any way I can get them and when they’re topped with marinara sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese??? Sign me up! The best part about this recipe? It’s ready for the table in about 30 minutes. You can’t beat that!
Portobello Mushroom Parmesan
4 portobello mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
1 cup marinara sauce (homemade or store-bought)
fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced in 1/4 thick slices (shredded is fine too)
grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper. Spread 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Place the mushrooms top-down on top of the marinara sauce and top with the remaining marinara sauce. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and bake about 15 minutes. Top with fresh mozzarella and return to oven for another 10-15 minutes until cheese is nicely melted. Serves 4.
Recipe source: heavily adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
**Disclaimer: I am NOT one of those women who believes any sort of food, herbal remedy or old wives’ trick can induce labor. I fully believe my little girl will come when she is good and ready, thus making the idea of this cake completely bogus in principal, but nevertheless, good for a chuckle.
Evening primrose oil, castor oil, spicy foods, raspberry leaf tea…I’ve heard of just about every trick out there to induce labor. Of course I believe they’re all complete horse pucky. So naturally, when I was reading on a popular baby discussion forum about all these women baking and eating these so-called “labor cakes” to induce labor, I laughed out loud. Of all the ridiculous notions….yeah sure, a boxed mix chocolate cake is going to kick-start my labor…riiiight. However, I sat there and got to thinking about a warm, gooey, chocolaty cake fresh from the oven and just couldn’t resist. While I don’t believe any amount of chocolate will convince Cassidy to get a move on, any excuse to shove my face full of cake is good enough for me. So I made myself a labor cake. Following the recipe exactly (box mix and all). And it was dang good. Did Cassidy come? Nope. Did I enjoy my cake and go to bed with a smile on my face? You bet.
“Labor Cake” (A dressed up chocolate cake)
1 box Devil’s Food Cake mix
1 small package chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 vegetable oil
1 12-ounce package mini chocolate chips
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and pour into a greased bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
To make mine extra chocolaty, I topped it with my grandmother’s fudge icing:
Nana’s Fudge Icing (adapted to be a thin glaze rather than a thick frosting)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat all ingredients except vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until mixture is melted and beginning to thicken. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.
Cake recipe source: www.justmommies.com
Well, it looks like we all survived the Christmas hustle and bustle! I hope you all had as wonderful a Christmas as we did! Although there was lots of driving involved, we had so much fun with our families and ate SO much good food! Joel and I certainly enjoyed our last Christmas as a twosome, but we couldn’t help but dream of next year’s Christmas and how special it will be with Cassidy!
And now that Christmas is over, it’s time to start thinking about yummy New Year’s Eve snacks! Joel and I always have lots of different snack foods on New Year’s Eve instead of a big meal. We enjoy just staying home and enjoying a nice, quiet evening just the two of us (all that is sure about to change, huh?!). I’m thinking this year we’ll definitely be snacking on this appetizer for sure! I tried it just over a week ago when we had my parents and grandparents over for a nice meal (like we do every year before Christmas). I wanted a quick, easy, delicious appetizer that would require as little work as possible so I’d have more time for the rest of the cooking. I’ve had this recipe saved on Pinterest for weeks and weeks now and it turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. SO good! We all crowded around it and couldn’t stop eating it! The combination of the toasted pistachios and sweet cranberries was just ideal. I’ll be using this recipe again and again! If you’re headed to a party this New Year’s Eve or even just staying in like we do, this appetizer is just perfect! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Goat Cheese Log with Pistachios and Cranberries
1 8-ounce log goat cheese
1/2 cup pistachios, shelled
1/2 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
sliced baguette or crackers for serving
In a small pan over medium-high heat, toast the pistachios until fragrant; about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool.
Combine the pistachios and cranberries in a plate and roll the goat cheese log in the mixture until completely coated. Place on a serving dish and sprinkle the remaining pistachio/cranberry mixture around the log. Allow to sit out at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving so the cheese will soften nicely and become more spreadable. Serves approximately 6-8.
Recipe source: Real Simple