Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sesame Chicken Bake


Sesame Chicken Bake

This dish has all the flavors of takeout Chinese Sesame Chicken without the fat or work of frying. I like to serve mine over a bed of brown rice and with steamed broccoli for soaking up the extra sauce.

-1/2 c water, mixed with 1/4 c cornstarch
-1 cup chicken broth
-4 Tbsp soy sauce
-2 Tbsp sesame oil
-1 cup sugar
-1 tsp- 1 Tbsp sriracha sauce
-1 lb chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
-1 Tbsp sesame seeds
-4 scallions, sliced

Combine water/ cornstarch through sriracha in a small pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, until sauce has thickened. Stir sauce and cut up chicken together in a greased 13 x 9 pan. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions. Serve over rice.

Red Cabbage Salad with dates and feta


Red Cabbage Salad with dates and feta

After seeing this salad posted on Smitten Kitchen I was super curious and skeptical about the combination of ingredients. Surprisingly, I LOVED this and found that the ingredients work so well together and each one is essential to pull this unexpected salad off. To quickly shred the red cabbage I use my food processor.


-zest and juice of 1 lemon
3Tbsp olive oil
-1 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 small head red cabbage, shredded
-1/2 c dates, chopped
-1/2 cup feta
-1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
-1 Tbsp sesame seeds

In a medium to large bowl whisk together the lemon zest and juice through the red pepper flakes. Toss with remaining ingredients and serve.

Bread Pudding




Bread Pudding

This is my twist on the traditional New Orleans dessert. I use whole wheat sandwich bread because I have it on hand and it adds a little nutrition with the whole grains but sliced french bread would be the most authentic option.

Pudding

-2.5 cups milk
-4 eggs
-2 Tbsp butter, melted
-3 Tbsp whiskey, bourbon or rum
-1 Tbsp vanilla
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 tsp cinnamon
-2 c sugar
-1/2 c raisins (optional)
-1/4 c chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
-10 slices bread, cut into bite sized chunks

In a medium bowl, whisk together milk through cinnamon. Add sugar and whisk again. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into a greased 13 x 9 dish and bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes, until set but still moist.

Sauce

-1 stick butter
-1/2 c sugar
1/4 c whiskey, bourbon or rum

While pudding bakes, combine sauce ingredients in a small pot. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often. Once pudding is baked pour sauce over top and serve warm.

Fruit and Nut Quinoa Salad


Fruit and Nut Quinoa Salad

This salad is very versatile- you could use almost any fruit or nuts you prefer and have on hand. Serve on its own, over greens or as a side dish to accompany a main entree. You could eat this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I take a shortcut on cooking my quinoa and cook it in the rice cooker just like I would with rice.

-1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-zest and juice of 1 lime
-1-2 Tbsp sugar or honey
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 Tbsp curry powder
-1 cup dried fruit of choice, chopped (I used dates, cranberries, dried coconut  and apricots)
-1/2 cup nuts of choice (I used sliced almonds)
-3 scallions, sliced
-1/2 bunch chopped cilantro or mint

In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil through curry powder. Toss with remaining ingredients and serve.

Moroccan Carrot Salad


Moroccan Carrot Salad

This recipe was inspired by an instagram post of something Shauna Niequist made. I wasn't even sure that I would like it, but having LOVED all of Shauna's recipes I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised by this unexpected combination of flavors and textures. I'm not sure if the feta and sunflower seeds classify as Moroccan, but they work with the dish and add a nice flavor and texture- feel free to leave them out if you want to be more on the authentic side.

-1/4 c olive oil
-juice and zest of 1 lemon
-1 Tbsp honey
-3/4 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-1 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp coriander
- lb carrots, shredded
-1 can chickpeas, drained
-1/2 c feta
-12 dried apricots, chopped
-1/4 c sunflower seeds
-1 bunch mint, chopped

In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil through coriander. Toss with remaining ingredients and serve.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Baked Chicken Fajitas



Baked Chicken Fajitass

Recently I have started baking my fajitas rather than cooking them on the stove. This works so much easier for me when I have small children running around and can't always baby-sit and stir a pan on the stove. We might even like the end result a little more than when I cook them on the stove. If I'm serving meat eaters and vegetarians I will add extra veggies (like zucchini, squash and/ or tomatoes) and cook the veggies in a separate dish from the meat. I usually have to use two 13 x 9 pans when cooking these so that I don't overcrowd things.

-4 Tbsp olive oil
-2 Tbsp chili powder
-1 Tbsp paprika
-2 tsp cumin
-1 Tbsp sugar
-2 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-6 cloves garlic, minced
-1 lb chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
-1 onion, sliced
-1 pack mushrooms, sliced
-2 colored bell peppers
-zest and juice of 2 limes
-1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
-desired fajita fixings; tortillas, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, cilantro, hot sauce etc.

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil through minced garlic. Toss with the chicken through bell peppers. Spread the veggie/ meat mixture into two greased baking dishes or sheet pans. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Put under the broiler for 5-10 minutes to give it a good browning/ char. Stir in lime juice, zest and cilantro and serve.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Vegetable Pot Pie


Vegetable Pot Pie

-4 Tbsp butter
-1 onion, diced
-1 pack mushrooms, sliced
-1/4 flour
-2.5 cups vegetable broth
-1 tsp turmeric
-1/2 tsp dried rosemary
-1 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
-1 small bag frozen mixed vegetables
-1 sheet puff pastry
-1 egg, beaten (optional)

Melt butter in a medium to large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute 5 more minutes. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in broth and cook, while whisking 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add the turmeric through frozen vegetables and stir well. Pour into a greased 13x9 pan.

Roll the pastry to fit the top (or you can cut it up and do a lattice pattern on top). Place the pastry over the filling and brush the top with the egg.

Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes, until the pastry is brown and puffed. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Chicken Parmesan Bake


Chicken Parmesan Bake

This isn't your traditional chicken parmesan. By omitting the frying this dish is more healthful and very easy to throw together. If you are in a hurry you could use jarred sauce rather than making your own and save 15 minutes. Serve on top of your favorite pasta.

-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 (29 oz) can crushed tomatoes
-1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
-1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
-1 Tbsp sugar
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 lb chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
-1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
-1/4 c shredded parmesan cheese
-(optional) basil or parsley to sprinkle as a garnish

Heat oil in medium pot, over medium heat. Add onion, saute 5 minutes Add garlic, saute 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes-red pepper flakes and simmer 10 minutes, stirring regularly. In a medium sized greased casserole dish combine sauce and chicken, stirring to coat. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. top with cheeses and bake 5 more minutes. Sprinkle with garnish, if using and serve with you favorite cooked pasta.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Shepherd's Pie


Shepherd's Pie

To make this authentic Shepherd's Pie you would actually need to use lamb instead of beef, with beef it is technically Cottage Pie, but I grew up calling it Shepherd's Pie so that's what I call it even if it is a tad inaccurate. I double the recipe when I want to make an entire 9x13 pan to feed a crowd, As is this recipe should feed 4-6 people. Sometimes I'll add a can of diced tomatoes with their juices to the filling when I feel like it. For a different variation, use ground turkey instead of the beef, chicken broth instead of the beef broth and sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.

-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 lb ground beef
-1 onion, diced
-1 small package mushrooms, sliced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 Tbsp butter
-1 Tbsp flour
-1 cup beef broth
-1 tsp dried thyme
-1 tsp dried rosemary
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
-4 Tbsp ketchup
-1 small package mixed frozen vegetables (I like the combination of peas, corn, carrots and green beans)
-2 large russet potatoes, peeled, diced and boiled until tender
-1/4 c milk
-4 Tbsp butter
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-paprika and/ or parsley for sprinkling as a garnish (if desired)

Heat oil in medium to large pot, over medium heat. Add onion and beef, stirring intermittently and breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon. Once beef is mostly brown drain off the fat and add the mushrooms and garlic. Saute an additional 1-2 minutes, drain the entire mixture using a strainer and set aside. Return pan to heat and melt butter. Once butter is melted sprinkle in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in broth. Add thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, Worcestershire and ketchup. Continue to cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened. Add vegetables, stir, and spread into a medium sized, greased baking dish. Mash potatoes with the milk, butter, salt and pepper and spread over top of the beef mixture. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley for garnish if desired. Serve.

Mediterranean Quinoa Bake



Mediterranean Quinoa Bake

Quinoa dishes are my go to when I need a quick and easy vegan or vegetarian meal. They are easy to throw together- usually dump and stir- and packed with nutrition. They are also versatile and you can easily change up the veggies and seasonings to use up what you have on hand. I take a short cut to cook my quinoa and do it in the rice cooker using a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa. This can be a vegetarian main dish or a side dish to accompany your favorite meat- it would be amazing with kebabs.

-juice and zest of 1 lemon
-4 Tbsp olive oil
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 tsp dried dill
-1 tsp dried oregano
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
-1 (16 oz) pack frozen spinach thawed and moisture squeezed out using a kitchen towel
-1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
-1 cup chopped roasted red peppers and/ or artichoke hearts
-1 cup feta cheese

In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice and zest, olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, dill, oregano and garlic. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread into a medium sized greased baking dish. Top with an additional sprinkling of feta, if desired. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Spinach Mushroom Ramel Bowl



Spinach Mushroom Ramen Bowl

Omit the egg and this dish is vegan. Substitute rice noodles and it is also gluten free. I like to prepare the broth in the morning, refrigerate all day, then heat back up to cook the noodles and wilt the spinach just before serving.

-2 Tbsp canola, vegetable or sesame oil
-1 inch chunk of ginger, minced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-8 cups vegetable, chicken or beef broth
-1 Tbsp soy sauce
-1/2-1 Tbsp sriracha sauce
-1 Tbsp honey or sugar
-1 (8 oz) pack mushrooms, sliced
-a few handfuls of baby spinach
-2 packages instant ramen noodles, seasoning packets discarded
-sliced scallions for garnish
-4 soft boiled eggs (simmered for 7 minutes)

Heat oil in medium pot over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic, saute for 1 minute. Add broth, soy sauce, sriracha and sugar, simmer for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, simmer 5 more minutes. Add noodles, simmer for 3 minutes, stirring with a fork to break noodles apart. Turn off heat, stir in spinach and let sit for 5 minutes or until it wilts. Spoon noodles and broth into serving bowls, top with green onions and float two halves of a soft boiled egg on top.

(To soft boil an egg bring a small pot of water to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, with the support of a spoon add the eggs, continue to simmer 7 minutes. Plunge eggs into an ice bath for 2 minutes, then peel)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sweet Chili Chicken




Sweet Chili Chicken

As a shortcut you can use bottle sweet chili sauce instead of the homemade to make this a super quick and easy dish to throw together. I like to mix the chicken with the sauce in the baking pan the morning of, then refrigerate and just pop in the oven in the evening. Serve with rice and your favorite steamed or roasted veggies.

-1/2 cup warm water
-1/2 cup honey or sugar
-1/4 cup rice vinegar
-zest and juice of 1 lime
-2 Tbsp soy sauce
-1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
-2 cloves garlic minced
-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-1 tsp Sriracha
-1 tsp salt
-1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into large bite sized chunks
-green onions and sesame seeds for garnish

Whisk together water through salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Once thickened, remove from heat and cool.

Pour cooled sauce into a greased medium sized baking dish. Add chicken, stir to coat with the sauce. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes then broil for 3 minutes to add a little color. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions and serve.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

My Favorite Ways to Use Shredded Chicken



At least once a month (sometimes weekly) I buy a giant bulk pack of boneless skinless chicken breasts and cook them up in my slow cooker to use throughout the week/ month in other meals. Thanks to the help of my slow cooker and stand mixer all of this requires almost no effort on my part to have a head start on many days of dinners. Cooked shredded chicken is a great time saver that allows me to assemble many dinners in less than 30 minutes.



To cook the chicken I grease a slow cooker, add my cooking ingredients, place the chicken breasts on top, spooning some of the sauce over them and cook on low for 4-6 hours until the breasts easily shred when pulled with a fork. Do not overcook the chicken or it will become dry. Then I shred the chicken using the paddle attachment on my stand mixer (or you can use 2 forks if you don't have a stand mixer). Once the chicken is shredded I refrigerate and freeze it in 2 cup portions based on when I'm going to be using the chicken.



My sauces for cooking the chicken vary depending on how I'm going to use it. My go to is simply 1-2 cups of jarred salsa in the slow cooker. If I want a more versatile chicken then I'll do some combination of lemon juice, white wine, garlic and/ or dijon mustard. Or for an Asian twist I'll do soy sauce, honey, sriracha, ginger and garlic.

Click the links below to see my favorite ways to use up the cooked, shredded chicken once I have it on hand.

White Chicken Chili

Chicken Tortilla Soup

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Thai Chicken Pizza

Brown Rice Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

Gumbo

Chicken Enchiladas

White Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Curried Chicken Salad

Curried Chicken Pasta Salad

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Tacos/ Burrito Bowls

Guacamole Chicken Salad

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Chicken Noodle Soup

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Char Siu Seasoned Chicken (make a sauce like I did with the pork and combine with shredded chicken and serve over rice)

Fried Rice

Black Beans Corn and Rice Casserole (with added chicken)


Chicken Pot Pie



Chicken Pot Pie

-4 Tbsp butter
-1 onion, diced
-1/4 flour
-3 cups chicken broth
-1/2 tsp turmeric
-1/2 tsp dried rosemary
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
-2 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
-1 small bag frozen mixed vegetables
-1 sheet puff pastry
-1 egg, beaten

Melt butter in a medium to large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in broth and cook, while whisking 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add the turmeric through frozen vegetables and stir well. Pour into a greased 13x9 pan.

Roll the pastry to fit the top (or you can cut it up and do a lattice pattern on top). Place the pastry over the filling and brush the top with the egg.

Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes, until the pastry is brown and puffed. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Hummus



Hummus

I'm picky about the type of canned chickpeas that I'll use for hummus. I've used some brands that resulted in gritty hummus. I either recommend using Goya chickpeas straight out of the can, or if you're using another brand I recommend boiling them in their liquid for 10 minutes before starting to ensure that you are working with soft chickpeas. This hummus is a good blank slate, then you can customize by adding specialty ingredients like pesto, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, jalapeno etc. as desired.

-1 clove garlic
-1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained with 1/4 cup of liquid reserved
-juice of 1/2 lemon
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-2 Tbsp tahini
-1/2 tsp cumin
-1/8 tsp cayenne
-1/2 tsp salt

Place the garlic in a blender or food processor and finely chop. Add remaining ingredients and puree for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Serve immediately, or chill until serving and return to room temperature before eating. For a pretty presentation drizzle some olive oil over your bowl of hummus and sprinkle with fresh parsley or ground paprika before serving.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Brown Rice Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya


Brown Rice Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

White rice can be used instead of brown in this recipe, but you will need to reduce the water by 1/2- 1 cup and reduce the cooking time.

-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 lb andioulle sausage, sliced
-1 onion, diced
-1 bell pepper, diced
-6 cloves garlic, minced
-1 (29 oz) can diced tomatoes
-5 cups chicken broth
-2 tsp cajun seasoning
-1 bay leaf
-1 tsp dried thyme
-1 tsp dried oregano
-2-6 Tbsp hot sauce
-2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced
-2 cups brown rice
-chopped parsley or green onions for garnish

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook sausage, stirring occasionally, until it is browned, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to set sausage aside. Add onion and bell pepper to the pot, saute 5 minutes. Add garlic, saute 1 additional minute. Add diced tomatoes, broth, cajun seasoning, bay leaf, thyme, oregano and hot sauce, bring to a boil. Add reserved sausage, chicken and brown rice, reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until rice is cooked (45-60 minutes), stirring occasionally and adding extra water if needed until rice is tender. Serve with desired garnishes.


Quick and Easy Chocolate and Salted Caramel King Cake


Quick and Easy Chocolate and Salted Caramel King Cake

I use the term King Cake very loosely in this recipe. Usually a king cake is made with a yeasty cinnamon roll-like dough that has to rise and ends up sort of dry and bread like before it is topped with lots of colored sugar. This is not something we are huge fans of around here- although living in New Orleans and rejecting king cake is almost sacrilegious. Recently I had a chocolate king cake that had almost a croissant like dough that I really enjoyed, so this is my quick and easy attempt to duplicate that.

-2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
-3 Tbsp cinnamon
-4 Tbsp brown sugar
-1 cup chocolate chips
-2-4 Tbsp milk
-1/4 cup caramel sauce (store bought or homemade)
-1/2 tsp sea salt for sprinkling
-1 eggs, beaten

Place the shorter end of one piece of puff pastry on a floured surface against the shorter end of another piece and press the edges together. Roll the dough into one long, thin rectangle.

Combine the cinnamon and brown sugar and sprinkle over the rectangle.

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or by microwaving and stirring at 30 second intervals, Adding a tablespoon of milk at a time once melted to thin out the chocolate. Spread or drizzle the chocolate onto the puff pastry.

Drizzle the caramel sauce over the chocolate. Sprinkle the salt over the caramel.

Starting with one of the long ends of the rectangle start rolling the dough over itself to form one long strip of dough that has been rolled and rolled until all of the filling is on the inside. Place this long tube on a baking sheet covered with parchment and form it into a circle or oval, pressing the ends together. Brush the dough with the egg. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until pastry is brown and puffy. Cool at least 10 minutes prior to serving.

(I usually bake mine a day ahead and heat the individual pieces in the microwave for 10 seconds prior to serving so that the chocolate is warm and melted)

Pumpkin Cobbler


Pumpkin Cobbler

This is one of our favorite desserts. It bakes up with a warm pumpkin pudding/ sauce on the bottom and a cake-like pumpkin layer on top. Serve it warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.


-1 cup + 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon cloves
-1/2 cup pumpkin puree
-1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Topping:
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
-1 1/2 cups hot water


In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and spices. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk pumpkin, milk, melted butter and vanilla together to combine. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to form a thick batter. Pour into mixture into a greased 8 or 9 inch square casserole dish.

In a separate bowl, stir sugar, brown sugar and nuts together. Sprinkle the sugar/ nut mixture over the top of the batter evenly. Pour hot water over the entire thing. Do not stir. Bake for 40 minutes or until the middle is set. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving. 

Indian Spiced Lentil Stew


Indian Spiced Lentil Stew

Serve this hearty stew over brown rice (if desired) and with lots of fresh cilantro and scallions for topping.

-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion. diced
-1 inch chunk of ginger, minced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 (15 oz) can crushed or diced tomatoes
-4 cups vegetable broth
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 Tbsp cumin
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-1 c red lentils, rinsed
-1 lemon, thickly sliced
-fresh chopped cilantro and green onions for toppings

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and ginger and saute for 5-10 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 additional minute. Add tomatoes, broth, salt, cumin, cayenne, lentils and lemon. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes, until lentils are soft. Serve warm, over rice if desired, and topped with LOTS of fresh cilantro and green onions.

Spinach Artichoke Egg Bake


Spinach Artichoke Egg Bake

-16 eggs
-1/4 c milk or heavy cream
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/2 tsp dried rosemary
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 (10 oz) package frozen spinach, thawed and moisture squeezed out in a kitchen towel
-1 (15 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
-1 1/4 c shredded mozzarella
-1/4 c shredded parmesan

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk/ cream, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, rosemary, thyme and garlic. Stir in the spinach, using a fork to separate it and break it up. Stir in the artichoke hearts and 1 cup of the mozzarella. Pour egg mixture into a greased 13x9 pan. Top with remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella and the parmesan. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until set. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Handmade Christmas Gifts

I'm a big fan of giving and receiving handmade gifts for many reasons. I like gifts to be about a thought rather than the amount of money spent. I like holidays to be focused on things other than presents, pressure and items. I like to focus on experiences, words and thoughtfulness. The act of making handmade gifts is also a fun creative outlet for me and the boys. That said, here are the gifts we did this year;


Instead of doing our traditional cookie baking this year I decided to simplify and go with chocolate dipped pretzel rods covered in sprinkles. I got all of the stuff set up but the boys were able to do this mostly on their own with some supervision from me. They enjoyed making and eating these goodies and had such pride when they were able to give their teachers items that they themselves had made.


Every year we make a different ornament for our family members and close friends. This year we did these super simple birdseed ornaments that can be hung outside to feed the birds (or inside if you prefer). Eli was able to help me press this mixture down into the cookie cutters and poke in straws for the holes.


For the grandparents I always try to incorporate something that the boys are able to make. This year we did these note cubes. This was so quick and easy. I bought plain note cubes and let the boys color all over the sides with markers.


This Chocolate Peppermint Lip Gloss was super easy to mix up and smells quite festive.

I melted 1/4 c un-petroleum jelly and 1/4 c coconut oil in the microwave at 30 second intervels. Then stirred in 1 stevia packet, 1 tsp cocoa powder and 6 drops of peppermint oil until well mixed. Then I poured the mixture into these little lip gloss pots and let it sit for a few hours until it solidified.


These Curried Lentil and Wild Rice Soup Mixes are super easy to whip up and all the receiver has to do is add 7 cups of water and 25 minutes of cooking and dinner is served.

For these I layered 1/2 cup green lentils, 1/2 cup red lentils and 3/4 cup wild rice in a pint jar.  Then I mixed together 1 Tbsp sugar, 1.5 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp dried parsley, 1 Tbsp curry powder, 2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp ginger and 1/4 tsp coriander and put in a small bag. I set the bag in the jar on top of the rice and attached a label instructing to rinse the rice and lentils in a strainer, then put them in a large pot with 7 cups of water and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the rice and lentils are tender.


Two of my boys got these stuffed owls because they were obsessed with them when I made them for friends.


And the third boy got one of these monsters.


For more of my handmade gift ideas sort through my older posts by selecting the Gifts/ Holiday label in the sidebar.