So Long, Farewell 2013, Hello 2014!

I know it’s been a while since my last post. I swear it’s not you, it’s me. Finding the time and energy to blog since baby girl #3 has been more than a challenge for me. So, I am saying farewell for a little while. Thank you all for following me, reading, commenting, supporting and sharing my blog posts – I love being able to communicate with you!  I will definitely be back, most likely when I’m busting at the seams to share a new beauty find with you! But for now I am focusing on family.

In fact, 2014 is all about making more time – time for my fitness goals, time for organizing my closet, time for playing with my kids and going on dates with my husband, time for reading books and time for learning how to cook more! I am excited about this year and I love watching my girls blossom. I want to be stronger physically and mentally so I can be the best role model for them. I want to go back to basics as much as I can – with less crap in my food, and less technology in my face. I want to enjoy the moments more with my kids and husband.

And so without further adieu, here it is in writing – my 2014 goals:

1) “Unplug” on Sundays for more family time

2) Re-commit my fitness goals of working out 5 days per week, incorporate 1 day of yoga or stretching per week, be more active with my family for hikes, walks, biking trips

3) Learn how to cook more dishes and healthier versions of favorites (like chicken parm!)

4) Read more. 1 book per month…and NO magazines like US Weekly or Allure do not count :)

5) Play more with my kids. nuff said :)

6) Plan at least 2 date nights per month with my husband

7) Budget better. Try to use the cash system more instead of debit card. Let’s face it, debit cards are scary with all the recent fraud and security breaches!

I’m not saying I’m quitting social media entirely. But the likelihood of me sitting down for hours at a time to crank out a few blog posts again is very slim. And while I truly do love sharing ideas and awesome finds with all of you, it takes so much time away from my family. Since it’s not paying the bills, I just can’t justify that much of a time suck.  I  will still be on instagram and facebook, so I would love if you followed me there to see what I’m up to or my latest beauty or fashion find. It’s much quicker to snap a photo and share in an instant!

What are your goals this year?

 

Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies | Recipe

I am always looking for fast and healthy kids meals ideas – especially lower cost ones than the pre-packaged and not so good for you breakfast bars! I came across a fantastic paleo breakfast cookie recipe that I thought would be perfect for my girls on those “rush out the door” school mornings. With just a few tweaks to the recipe, like omitting seeds and nuts and adding chocolate chips (mama’s gotta sell these suckers to her ladies), I bring to you a healthy and delicious cookie for all to enjoy!

 

Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies (Grain Free Dairy Free)
Prep time: 10 minutes       Cook time: 12 minutes       Yield: 18 – 20 cookies
Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (168 g) blanched almond flour*

3 tablespoons (24 g) coconut flour*

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

2 tablespoons (24 g) organic brown sugar (can substitute an equal amount coconut palm sugar or granulated sugar)

4 tablespoons (48 g) melted organic coconut oil (can substitute an equal amount, by weight, of virgin coconut oil or even unsalted butter if you don’t need to be dairy free), melted and cooled

2 eggs (120 g, out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

4 tablespoons (84 g) honey

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup (60 g) dark chocolate chips

 

Paleo Cookie Dough

*Original recipe called for blanched almond flour and coconut flour exclusively from nuts.com. There are other good brands of finely ground blanched almond flour, like Honeyville. Original recipe advised to not use Bob’s Red Mill brand or Trader Joe’s brand almond flours. I used Bob’s blanched almond flour/meal and it was great.

Directions
  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
  • In a large bowl, place the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, salt, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice, and whisk to combine well. Add the coconut oil, eggs, honey and vanilla, and mix to combine well. The dough will come together, and will be soft. Add the chocolate chips and mix until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  • Drop the dough on the prepared baking sheet in mounds about 3 tablespoons each, about 1 inch apart from one another. They will not spread much, if at all, during baking. With wet fingers, smooth the mounds of dough into round disks about ½ inch high.
  • Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the cookies are puffed, pale golden all over and brown around the edges. For firmer cookies, turn off the oven, prop the door open only about 2 inches wide, and allow the cookies to sit in the oven for another 15 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet until firm (at least 10 minutes, unless you have followed the directions for firmer cookies, which should only require about 5 minutes outside the oven on the baking sheet) before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
I made six variations to the original recipe of the dough, you can find the original here by Nicole Hunn of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring:

http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/paleo-breakfast-cookies-grain-free-dairy-free/

Clean Game Day Food | Barbecue Chicken Lettuce Wraps & Sweet Potato Wedges

I have to share what our family ate during the Patriots game today because it was a huge hit, and it was the first time I had attempted to prepare healthy “football” food.

Since the Patriots were playing the Bills, naturally I wanted to make buffalo wings baked in the oven. But, I already had four organic chicken breasts in the fridge so I decided to use what I had instead of going shopping. It was so easy to make with simple ingredients, here’s what I did:

I cut one sweet onion into thin strips and placed into the slow cooker, then added chicken breasts lightly seasoned with just salt & pepper. Next I poured in a cup of organic low sodium chicken broth and cooked it on high for 4 hours. Lastly, I drained the broth, shredded the chicken and added a 1/2 cup of organic barbecue sauce along with a splash of worcestershire sauce and cooked on low for 2 more hours.

 

For the side of sweet potato wedges I washed and steamed 6 small sweet potatoes in the microwave. Next I sliced them lengthwise to make wedges, brushed on olive oil and topped with sea salt before baking in the oven at 450 degrees for 40 minutes until they were nice and crispy

We scooped the chicken onto the lettuce wraps and topped with shredded cheddar cheese. Everyone (even the kids) loved this simple meal. I love it even more because it has just a few ingredients and I was able to walk away and do other things while it was cooking.

What healthy foods do you make on game days?

 

Tasty Tuesday | Best Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever!

 

I admit I am a chocoholic. I am a freak when I get a craving for something sweet, and have been known to put my kids to bed before 7 just so I can go on an uninterrupted baking rampage!

Latley I’ve been trying to wean myself and my kids off of sugar – not so easy now that I have passed on my sweet tooth to them. I feel a little less guilty knowing I am making it all from scratch, and from good organic/non GMO sources.

I must share the yummiest cookies with you! I adapted the recipe from Oatmeal with a Fork last week.

They came out great, taste amazing and the girls love them, so they will be a new staple in our dessert dish!

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The Best Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever
Author: Lauren Goslin
Prep time: 5 mins Cook time: 10 mins Total time: 15 mins
Serves: 9

Ingredients
1 c. almond meal
scant 1/4 t. sea salt
1/8 t. baking soda
1/4 t. cinnamon, optional, but delicious!
3 T. coconut oil or butter, melted
2 T. Honey or maple syrup (I substituted Organic Agave Syrup
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1-3 t. water
2-4 T. chopped dark chocolate, depending on your personal preference (I used 3 T.) (I substituted with Ghiaradelli semi sweet chips

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the almond meal, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
Stir in the coconut oil, honey/maple syrup, and vanilla.
Add in water as needed to bring everything together.
Stir in the chopped chocolate last.
Bake for 10-11 minutes on a well oiled or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet (the edges should be golden).
Let them sit on the pan for 5-10 minutes (they firm up during this time, so this is an important step!).
Remove and enjoy!

Notes
Nutrition facts are based on using maple syrup and 4 tablespoons of dark chocolate. Weight Watchers points (new system): 4
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 9 Calories: 139 Fat: 11.2 g Saturated fat: 5.3 g Unsaturated fat: 5.9 g Trans fat: 0 g Carbohydrates: 8.2 g Sugar: 5.6 g Sodium: 71 mg Fiber: 1.5 g Protein: 2.6 g Cholesterol: 1 mg

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Tasty Tuesday | Superbowl Leftovers Lunches

This doesn’t count as a recipe at all, but what do you do with all the superbowl leftovers?

This morning I made pinterest inspired healthy “lunchables” for my girls to bring to preschool.

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For some reason they are obsessed with the not very healthy store version. I think it’s partly because it’s super fun to make your own cheese and crackers sandwiches, and partly because they think it’s totally neat to buy their lunch at the local gas station on the way to preschool (not my proudest mom moment, but a necessary one while pregnant with baby #3!)

It was so easy to whip up two lunches I knew they would devour over any sandwich. I packed silicone cupcake liners into a Gladware container and placed our leftover cheddar cheeses, ritz crackers, salami and pepperoni slices along with grapes. I also stuck a stonyfield yogurt squeezer in their lunchbox to help balance it all out.

What do you pack for your preschoolers lunches?

 

Tasty Tuesday | Easy BBQ Crockpot Chicken

These days I am all about crockpot cooking. I love that I can put minimal effort in, yield amazing flavor in a meal and have massive amounts of leftovers for quick lunches.

I recently adapted a BBQ chicken recipe from food.com and made for my family. It was so delicious with a few tweaks! We even had enough leftovers for pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches the next night.

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Easy BBQ Crockpot Chicken
(adapted from the Sweet Baby Ray’s Crockpot Chicken Recipe)

Ingredients:
4 -6 pieces boneless skinless fresh or thawed chicken breasts
1 (18 ounce) bottle barbecue sauce (I love Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory & Brown Sugar)
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2-1 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:
1
Mix all ingredients except chicken.
2
Put chicken in the crock pot and pour sauce mixture over it. (save some sauce to drizzle over the chicken when serving).
3
Cook on low for 4-6 hours.
Slice chicken and serve with vegetables (I served with baked sweet potatoes and a salad).

I really wish I took a photo of the finished plated meal – it was not only pretty but so delicious!

I linked up with The New Modern Momma for her Tasty Tuesday blog hop!

What’s Cooking Wednesday? | Tackling A Few Fears in 2012

With just a few short weeks left in the year I am going to toot my own horn for a second because I finally conquered two huge fears of mine in the kitchen:

  1. I made meatballs. from scratch. several times. And. they. were. f@$%*?# good!
  2. I made chicken soup from scratch. Like, I roasted the chicken on Sunday, and boiled that bird on Monday. And… it was Grammy chicken soup quality – the good stuff!

I don’t know what I was afraid of, I always thought meatballs took forever to make and they would come out like hockey pucks. I just used a simple Betty Crocker recipe, improvised here and there, and sometimes now I make them early in the day when I get a chance and then throw them in the crockpot to simmer. Delish!

As I think about my New Year’s resolutions ideas a few things are on the top of my list. Stretching my budget is at the top. I want to do more for less with better planning and less impulse and convenience shopping. I’m growing into homemaking, and let’s just say it has taken me four years to be comfortable in the kitchen. I was that busy working professional who wouldn’t think twice about paying $9 for a small pre-cooked rotisserie chicken for one dinner before having kids.

I also want to feed my family healthier food. Real food. Not that I don’t strive for that now, but I’m talking organic fruits and vegetables, and grass fed meats all while on a stricter budget. I believe it’s achievable with planning and making the most out of my ingredients like the roasted chicken.

And as a random overshare sidenote, I feel more compelled to make things from scratch recently because my maternal grandmother was a phenomenal cook. She passed away this year and I always remember watching and helping her do everything the old fashioned way in the kitchen. I somewhow feel closer to her when I’m making meatballs, chicken soup, or baking with my daughter.

But getting back to the point, I squeezed three full family-of-four dinners (and some lunches) out of one $9 chicken roast this week. Here’s how I did it:

Sunday: Roasted garlic and rosemary chicken, carrots, mashed potatoes.

Monday: Homemade chicken salad sandwiches for my girls’ lunches. Chicken soup with carrots and celery with biscuits for dinner. I made 4 quarts of soup using only chicken meat from the the bones. Saved a whole breast from Sunday night.

Tuesday: Chicken soup for lunch. Baked Chicken Divan casserole with leftover chicken breast cubes, broccoli, and stuffing (recipe below).

Wednesday: Leftover casserole for lunch. We will not be eating chicken tonight! Beef tacos instead :)

Here is the Easy Broccoli Chicken Divan casserole I made:

 

I adapted the recipe below from allrecipes.com – swapping out the breadcrumb topping for Stovetop stuffing to stretch it, since I only had a cup of chicken breast cubes. My kids LOVED this dish and so did my husband, it was super quick to make and tasted delicious!

 

Submitted By: TERRY C
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Ready In: 40 Minutes
Servings: 6
“Condensed cream of broccoli soup simplifies sauce preparation for this easy chicken, Cheddar and fresh broccoli dish.”
INGREDIENTS:
1 pound chopped fresh broccoli
1 1/2 cups cubed, cooked chicken meat
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream
of broccoli soup
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 tablespoons dried bread crumbs
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
2. Place the broccoli in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain.
3. Place the cooked broccoli in a 9 inch pie plate. Top with the chicken. In a bowl, mix the soup and milk, and pour over the chicken. Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese. Mix the melted butter with the bread crumbs, and sprinkle over the cheese.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly brown.

 

 

So what kitchen fears have your conquered lately? Any resolutions you’d like to share? I love to swap ideas!

Maternity Monday | Obsessed with Bread Pudding

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I am currently obsessed with bread pudding, which I never ate until last year! I’m catching up on lost time and figured I would pass along this super easy and delicious recipe from allrecipes.com. Really, anything would taste good – you can’t really mess up bread pudding when using yummy ingredients like sugar and cinnamon. I also used our delicious local italian bread by Calise bakery.

Bread Pudding II Recipe from AllRecipes.com
 
Submitted By: ELLENMARIE
Photo By: raha
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Servings: 12

INGREDIENTS:
6 slices day-old bread
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Break bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking pan. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread. If desired, sprinkle with raisins.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.

Yummy Chicken Parmesan Rolls

I have to share the EASIEST recipe I found yesterday on Cooks.com! It was perfect for the thin sliced chicken cutlets I had in the fridge, and I added a side of veggies for a tasty dinner!

YUMMY CHICKEN PARMESAN ROLLS | Cooks.com

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Lay cutlet flat. Spread approximately 1-2 tbsp. tomato sauce on cutlet.
  • Either lightly sprinkle mozzarella or lay on thin slice of mozzarella on top of sauce.
  • Roll up cutlet, being careful to not push out sauce or cheese.
  • Tightly secure cutlet with one or two toothpicks. Lightly baste “chicken roll” with olive oil.
  • Mix breadcrumbs with Parmesan cheese in a 2:1 ratio, respectively.
  • Coat “chicken roll” with breadcrumb mixture entirely. Place “chicken roll” on baking sheet
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Sprinkle extra shredded mozzarella or place a slice of mozzarella on top of each “chicken roll” in the last 10-15 minutes.

Submitted by: Lisa Kellaher

After baking 40 mins…

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Please excuse the toothpicks, forgot to remove before snapping the photo!

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Where do you go for quick and easy family friendly recipes?

 

 

Project 10 | Almond Crusted Turkey Stuffed Peppers Paleo Recipe

As a participant in Project 10, and the 30 Day Paleo Shift, I am always looking for healthy versions of my regular recipes. As my love affair with almonds continues to grow, I’ve decided to substitute them in place of cheese in some of my recipes. I know, there is zero connection between almonds and cheese except for the sprinkle on top factor, but that along with adding a yummy nutty taste is enough to make me try anything! I made these stuffed peppers recently and it was a huge hit with my kids and husband. It’s quick and easy to make, and tastes delicious!

Ingredients

- 16 oz package of organic grass fed ground turkey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 jar of no salt or sugar added organic tomatoe sauce
- seasoning of your choice( I used a palmful of Trader Joe’s Everyday seasoning)
- 2 organic green peppers cut in halves
- 4 or 5 fresh sweet basil leaves chopped
- palmful of unsalted almonds crushed or chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sauté the ground turkey in olive oil with spices and chopped basil until no longer pink. Add in half the jar of tomatoe sauce and simmer. While turkey is sautéing I place the peppers in a glass baking dish and microwave for 2-4 minutes until tender. Once the turkey has simmered for a few minutes fill the peppers with the turkey, remaining tomatoe sauce, and then top with crushed almonds. I used my garlic press to crush them and it worked great! Bake the dish for 15-20 minutes until the top is slightly golden and crispy. Serve and enjoy!