If you get melted chocolate all over your hands, you're eating it too slowly. ~Author Unknown

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pumpkin-Blueberry Chia Oatmeal

My son loves oatmeal! He even went through a mini phase of asking me for oatmeal every morning for breakfast...no matter if I was offering him pancakes or cinnamon rolls (really)! Only problem that I was not comfortable with, was the type of oatmeal he was fascinated with and really the only kind he was ever given--instant! 

So I have really been trying to step away from harboring a pantry full of food with preservatives. It hasn't been easy! Unfortunately, pretty much everything convenient in the store has preservatives and unless you shop in a health food store and happen to have the money to spend on the goods, you are kind of SOL! Well, that is our dilemma anyway... we live on a military base and we are conveniently only like 1 minute away from our base's commissary and the prices are decent, so naturally we are compelled to do our shopping there.

I am aware there are plenty of healthy stuff in a regular store too but unlike a health food store, you really can't just grab items off the shelf and trust that what ingredients are in the box are good for your family. With my new "preservative free" life changes, my shopping list takes several hours compared to what it use to be. I know that once we figure out the good stuff vs. the bad, it won't take as long (I for one hope not!); until then, I will continue to scope out the minimal good stuff and find homemade replacements (and much tastier) for the products we need to part with. 

Enter....Blueberry Chia Oatmeal! On first glance of reading the original recipe for this, I may have recoiled slightly. After a quick Google search on a little about the ingredients that I have never heard of (like chia seeds, which if you haven't already guessed it, are the same chia seeds that you grow a Chia Pet with), and a few changes to suit my preference, I was very eager to make this oatmeal! Let me tell you, I WILL be making this one again...and again! Bonus if you have kids? It turns purple (yay!)

Pumpkin-Blueberry Chia Oatmeal
         {serves 2}

1 C frozen blueberries
2 tbsp hot water
1 C uncooked old fashioned rolled oats
1-1/2 C water
1/8 tsp salt 
2 tbsp pumpkin puree 
4 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground flax seeds
3 tbsp chopped walnuts
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 C almond milk or soy (I used plain but I bet vanilla will be good too)

In a small bowl, add the blueberries with the 2 tbsp hot water, set aside while the berries thaw a little and plump up.

In a saucepan, boil 1 C water with the salt. Stir in the oats, cook over medium heat for 5 min until most the water in the pan is absorbed. Stir in pumpkin.

Meanwhile, in another small bowl, mix together chia seeds, cinnamon, flax seeds, walnuts, & brown sugar. Stir mixture into the oatmeal, add the blueberries (including any liquid from them), & the almond milk. Mix until well combined. Distribute into bowls, prepare to be amazed at how awesome you will feel after this energy boosting breakfast!

(Source: adapted from kblog.lunchboxbunch.com )


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ham & Spaghetti Casserole

THIS is one casserole that I dub "comfort food"... I warn you, if you are on a diet of any sort run the other way!!!! If you are on a diet but can't help yourself, well then you and I are in the same boat; I will scooch over and make some extra room ;)

Ham, noodles, creamy (oh so creamy!), cheesy, and a few veggies so we don't feel too guilty about ourselves....do I need to even go on?!?? 

Ham & Spaghetti Casserole
(serves 4-6)

8 oz spaghetti noodles, broken in half
4 tbsp unsalted butter
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1-1/2 C chopped ham
3-4 sliced green onions
4 tbsp flour
2 C chicken broth
2 tbsp cooking sherry, optional
pinch of pepper
1/2 C heavy cream
1 C fresh shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1 C frozen peas, thawed

Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Coat a 13x9" baking dish with cooking spray.  Cook spaghetti noodles as package directs, drain & set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms, ham, green onion, & parsley. Saute until mushrooms are tender. Add flour, stir until blended. Mix in chicken broth, sherry, & pepper. Cook, stirring until thickened. Stir in heavy cream, 1/2 C Parmesan, & peas. Fold in the spaghetti noodles. Pour into baking dish & sprinkle remaining 1/2 C Parmesan over the top. Bake 25-35 minutes until hot and bubbly.

(Source: adapted from Diana Rattray @ southernfood.com)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Bacon & Green Onion Cream Cheese Spread

Absolutely anytime I come across a recipe that calls for cream cheese, I pretty much always will store it in my recipe saver (even recipes that call for questionable ingredient combinations...how bad could it be? It has cream cheese in it!)

While scrolling Pinterest, I came across this very easy recipe found on NancyCreative's blog. I followed it to a tee, right down to her awesome suggestion of enjoying this savory spread on top an everything bagel. 

We made this for dinner tonight, but it could easily be breakfast or lunch as well....or a snack! Great on a Ritz cracker or Wheat Thin. Could also be made into a nice cheese ball or cheese log.

*My only suggestion to this already great recipe, is using a low-sodium bacon.

Bacon & Green Onion Cream Cheese 
~adapted from NancyCreative~

8 oz softened cream cheese
4 oz cooked chopped bacon (about 12 oz pkg, uncooked)
1/4 C chopped green onions
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Everything Bagels

Using a fork, mash together cream cheese, bacon, & green onions. Mix in Worcestershire sauce. Once combined, cover and store in fridge until ready to use.

About 5 min before serving, preheat broiler and toast bagel halves until desired doneness (about 3-4 min), checking frequently not to burn.

Allow bagels to cool about 3 min before spreading desired amount on to each bagel half.

This spread should be enough for 6-8 bagels (depending on how much you like)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Chocolate-Dipped PB & Marshmallow Ritz Sandwich Cookies

One of my favorite snacks (that never fails) is crackers w/ creamy peanut butter.... well how about adding some fluffy marshmallow? Then if it couldn't get better then that.....adding some melted milk chocolate!!! The only negative thing I {{might}} say about this easy recipe?  You can not eat just one! Don't believe me? You try...  ;)

Chocolate-Dipped PB & Marshmallow Ritz Sandwich Cookies
                   (adapted from Nabisco.com)

All you need:
an even amount of Ritz crackers
7 oz tub marshmallow fluff
creamy peanut butter
milk or dark chocolate candy coating

Simply spread about 1/8" layer of peanut butter over one half of a ritz, 1/8" layer marshmallow fluff on another half of a ritz. Stick them together. Place on a plate. When you get the desired amount you want made, freeze for about 20 min.

Heat up the candy coating according to package directions. Remove sandwiches from freezer. Dip halfway into chocolate and set over a wax paper-lined plate. Once all have been dipped, freeze about 20 minutes more. 

* I recommend keeping these in the freezer or the fridge, the pb can get messy when it sits out.