Oatmeal Almond Raisin Protein Balls

These are so quick and easy to whip up!  In less than 20 minutes these go from pantry ingredients to the fridge.  These little protein balls are great for those rushed mornings where you may be tempted to “hit a drive through” on the way, or on busy work days when you might reach for a sugary carb loaded snack.

These are great as they are but feel free to experiment with other ingredients like Craisins, dried tart cherries, chopped nuts, chia seeds, etc…

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Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 ¼ cup gluten free steel cut oats
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Directions:

    1. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients until completely combined.  (I found it was easiest to mix by hand)
    2. Use a cookie dough scoop or a teaspoon to scoop out dough and then roll each scoop into a bite sized ball.
    3. Place each ball on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper.  When all are rolled out, place in fridge to chill for an hour then transfer to covered container and store in the fridge.

     

Makes approx 20 balls.  2 balls per serving.

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Vegan Mac n’ Cheese

vegan mac n' cheese
Going gluten free and dairy free hasn’t been all that difficult.  There are a lot of GREAT options now to replace foods that contain gluten and dairy foods.  I expected it to be a lot harder and I expected going dairy free would be the hardest.  It turns out that I don’t miss dairy.  It has been going gluten free that has been the hardest.  I LOVE bread and pasta.  I have since discovered gluten free pasta.  For a pasta that is most like wheat pasta, my favorite is Barilla gluten free pasta.
I made this mac n’ cheese this week.  I served it in my favorite Le Creuset mini cocettes.
And I added fresh, seeded, and chopped jalapeños from the garden.  Yes, it’s December 5th and I still have peppers growing!
The day I made these, my youngest son (he’s 18) came home from school and these were sitting on the counter.  He asked if he could have one.  I of course said, “yes”.  I didn’t offer that they were dairy free and gluten free.  He picked one up and headed off to his room with his after school snack 😉  15 minutes later he was back downstairs asking if he could have another one or if these were supposed to be for dinner.  I told him “no, I just wanted to try to new recipe out today because these are gluten free and dairy free”.  His reply was, “Wow! really.  I liked it a lot and I had no idea!”  I smiled and gave myself a check mark for a “mom win”.
Give this a try.  Finding nutritional yeast can sometime be tricky.  I order mine from Amazon.  I like the NOW brand.
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (do not substitute with any other yeast)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard (dijon or yellow)
  • 16 ounces Elbow or shell pasta of choice (gluten-free, if needed)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • paprika , for garnish

Optional:

  • seeded and chopped fresh jalapeños
Instructions
  1. Prepare the pasta according to package directions.

  2. While the pasta is cooking, combine the cashews, lemon juice, water, salt, nutritional yeast, chili powder, garlic, turmeric, cayenne (if using), and mustard in a high speed blender and blend until silky smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add 2-4 more tablespoons of water and blend again.

  3. Once the pasta is tender, drain and rinse it, then return the pasta to the pot and stir in the cheese sauce (and optional fresh jalepenos). Season to taste and serve warm!

    Recipe from Detoxinsta

M.I.A.

I’ve been missing in action for a few weeks.  I apologize to those of you following me.  I’ve been really busy with the family, work and then Doug and I had a weekend trip to the coast and the following weekend the flu found us.  So, I haven’t been cooking as much as I would like.  I have made a few things that were really good and I wish I had been blogging about them.  I am including the pictures for you to enjoy.  If there is something you see that you would like, let me know and I’ll try to get the recipe/instructions posted for you.

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Bread n’ Butter Pickles

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Thai Peanut Pasta

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Chocolate cake with raspberry butter cream frosting and chocolate ganache

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Breakfast Pizza

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Pulled pork with slaw and homemade sweet potato strings

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Easy spicy Rita with nachos

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Ribeye with eggs over easy with side of avocado and pico. Served with Bloody Maria.

Easy Fettucini Alfredo Sauce

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Chicken “Fettucine” Alfredo

I love pasta, especially when it’s covered in Alfredo sauce.  Before I learned how to make Alfredo sauce I would buy the pre-made jarred Alfredo sauce.  It never tasted right to me.  It lacked the creamy, cheesiness that restaurant Alfredo has.  At first I thought it must be difficult to make because why else do they charge so much for a plate or bowl of pasta with a sauce? $12 at Olive Garden for this dish. Yikes that would be $72 just for a family of 6 for the meal.  Add in drinks and tip and this is $100 for this meal.  Ok so maybe it’s expensive to make?

I found neither to be the case and most people have all these ingredients as a staple, well except maybe the heavy cream.

I know of two ways to make this sauce.  One is quite easy and the other is just a little complicated but still not difficult.  I am going to show you the easier way and then tell you the other way.  I like the simple version taste and it has less cholesterol this way.  though this by NO MEANS is meal friendly to the scale and once again it’s one of those meals that will make your doctor cry.

What you will need:

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  • Sauce pan
  • Large spoon for stirring
  • 2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/2 cup of Butter (salted is best)
  • 3 cups of Fresh Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 tspns of jarred crushed garlic
  • Coarse Pepper and salt (to taste)
  • Fresh Parsley (optional)

Place butter in sauce pan to melt over medium low heat.

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Once butter is melted slowly add in the heavy cream and stir.

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Once mixed well, add in the garlic and then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Then add in the Parmesan cheese and mix well.

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Continue simmering and stirring until all the cheese is melted.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Pour on top of fettucine cooked pasta (or whatever type of pasta you have on hand) and serve.

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When I made this I also added some parmesan crusted chicken I had leftover from some Panini sandwiches. I also didn’t have fettucine noodles so I used regular spaghetti noodles.  For a complete meal serve with a salad and side of bread.  I like to serve with crustini bread.

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Ok. so now for the slightly harder version.  Follow everything above except where you pour the sauce over the pasta.  Turn the heat off the sauce and separate 6 egg yolks.  Add in about 1/3 cup of the sauce to the yolks and whip.  Add the cream and egg mixture back to the remaining cream mixture and whip.  Turn heat back on low and continue to stir until sauce thickens.

See not difficult but you must be careful to not cook the yolks when adding the sauce and mixing and then when adding back to the sauce.  And it’s not expensive ingredients either.  This makes enough sauce to feed my family of 6.  You can cut it in half for a smaller family.  I have not tried freezing the sauce so I do not know if it will freeze well for later use.

I hope you try this and enjoy this easy and inexpensive dinner.

Ciao!

Homemade Cranberry Almond Cereal

There are a couple of things that are a must when I am choosing a recipe to cook or bake.

1. it must be something that my family will eat (that’s actually easy with all boys in the house) and

2. it must contain ingredients that can be bought in the average grocery store (I don’t want to have to find some obscure market or take a trip to an exotic island for an ingredient – though the trip to an exotic island does sound tempting right now being that it’s mid January).

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This definitely fits my musts.  As I am typing this I heard someone in the kitchen.  Both younger boys had already had an afterschool snack of this cereal, so I knew someone was sneaking something.  I found my youngest son scooping yogurt in a bowl and the bag of cereal ready to be poured over the yogurt.  He said to me, “Oh mom its sooooo good!  can I please have a little more?”  What mom can say no to a healthy snack and a compliment to something she made herself?  LOL not me.  So, he got his seconds.  And I am a big pushover when it comes to my kids.  They know it too.

The base recipe for this cereal came from somewhere else and I’ve changed a few things about it making it my version.  I love this cereal and once again my kids do to.  It’s a nice change from buying store-bought cereal.  It tastes great in a bowl of milk, over yogurt (as son #4 can attest to) or even straight up!  I’ve never tried making cereal bars out of this recipe but I think it would be possible if added more honey to bind it better and pressed it into a pan.  I may try that someday.

What you will need:

  • 1/2 sheet pan
  • 4 cups dry oats
  • 1 cup of wheat germ
  • 2 cups sliced or silvered almonds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tspns cinnamon
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tspns almond extract
  • dried cranberries (about 1 cup – you can choose to add as much or little are you want)

Heat oven to 300 degrees,  In a large mixing bowl add in oats, wheat germ, almonds, sesame seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  I didn’t take a picture of the sesame seeds.  These can often be hard to find without paying a fortune. I know I said this is a recipe that fits my muts and it is but I know sesame seeds can be tricky sometimes.  McCormick sells them in the spice section but you get hardly any in the jar.  There is a Spanish company that sells them in little bags for much less.  If you can’t find them or they are pricey, they can be left out.

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Mix well and make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.

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In a small bowl put the oil, honey, water and almond extract, stir to slighty mix, but it will not completely mix.  Pour this into the well in the dry ingredients and mix it all together.

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Mix well and then spread evenly on 1/2 sheet pan.

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Bake for about 40 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Stir about every 10 minutes to prevent edges from burning.  Once done, let it cool add the cranberries and mix again.

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Store in an airtight container.  Gallon sized Ziploc works well or you can get fancy and buy one of the Rubbermaid cereal containers.

Beef and Sausage Florentine stuffed shells

This is an original recipe.  This recipe comes from a family friend, John, many years ago.  He was the cook in his family.  I’m not sure how he came up with this and honestly the name he gave it I choose to not title it with.  We lovingly still call it by this name at home, but had I posted it with this name, I am sure you wouldn’t even think to give it a try.  So, you are probably wondering what the name is.  Think Dr. Seuss, maybe you can guess it.

Anyway, this is another easy recipe and despite the fact that there is spinach in the recipe I have not yet found a kid that didn’t like these stuffed shells.  Though, the green color of the meat (hint, hint as to what we call this at home) can sometimes cause a few kids to turn their noses up at first.

What you will need:

  • Large roasting pan
  • Large fry pan
  • Large pot for boiling noodles
  • Olive oil
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Jumbo sea shell noodles – 1 lb box
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1.75 lbs Lean hamburger meat  (90/10 or 93/7)
  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage (or Sage flavored ground breakfast sausage)
  • 2 cans chopped spinach
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

Pre-cook noodles until they are about 3/4 the way cooked; rinse in cold water to stop cooking process and allow shells to cool to handle.  While the shells are cooking, open and drain the 2 cans of spinach,  Press to get as much water out as possible.  Place spinach in a bowl and add the brown sugar and lemon or lime juice; mix well.  Cook hamburger meat and sausage in large frying pan.  When meat is cooked, drain grease from meat and add to the spinach mixture.  Mix spinach and meat together very well.  The meat will look green (ah ha another hint!!) when mixed completely.  Stuff each shell with the spinach and meat mixture.  Spray or sprinkle the bottom of the roasting pan with olive oil (I use a spray olive oil).  Place the stuffed shells in the pan.  Once all the shells are stuffed, pour as much of the spaghetti sauce as you would like on top of the shells and then sprinkle generously with mozzarella cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes, then remove foil and back until cheese is well melted and starting to turn golden.

Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and freshed snipped basil and/or parsely.  Warm crunchy crust Italian bread and salad goes nicely with this.  As does a nice glass of wine 🙂 And if there wasn’t enough spinach in this recipe for you, it would be nice with a side of wilted spinach.

See.  It’s easy!  though it does create a few dishes to wash but there is time to wash while the meal bakes.  Or if you are lucky like me you may have a husband or partner willing to wash the dishes for you.  And once you’ve eaten this, you can sing “I’m strong to the finish, ‘cuz I eat my spinach!  I’m Popeye the Sailor Man!  Toot toot!” 

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Crock Pot Barbecued Pulled Pork with homemade coleslaw

I love crock pot cooking.  At one time I had over 300 crock pot recipes.  I had them stored on a desktop computer.  I never backed them up to an external source and the inevitable happened.  Yup, the computer crashed and all my recipes, except a few that I had printed out, were lost.

This recipe was actually the result of a cooking mistake.  I had planned a pork roast cooked in the crock pot.  For some reason I bought a pork butt roast instead of a pork loin roast.  I had never cooked a pork butt roast before.  I removed the netting from the roast and placed it in the crock pot.  Several hours later when the roast was done,  I attempted to remove the roast from the crock pot and it fell apart.  I didn’t know what to do.  Then suddenly it came to mind to shred the meat and add BBQ sauce.  Now, I know I am not the first one to do this but this mistake has become a loved meal in this house.  I love it too because it’s so darn easy!

What you will need:

  • Pork Butt roast (3.5 lbs serves 4-6 nicely but if you have a hungry crowd get 4 to 4.5 lbs)
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Smoked Paprika
  • BBQ sauce of your choice (I prefer Sweet Baby Rays)
  • Optional – finely diced onion and jalapeno
  • *Dill pickle slices

Turn crock pot on low.  If the butt roast has netting on it, remove the netting.  Place butt roast in crock pot and season with the garlic powder, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.  I never measure amounts.  Sorry.  Cover and let it cook for approx 6 hours on low.  I’ve let it cook as long as 8 hours when it’s a larger roast and its been fine.  If using the diced onion and jalapenos, sprinkle on top and around the meat once it starts to make juices.

About 2 hours before the meat is done (or a minimum of 45 minutes) make the coleslaw.  Here is what you will need for that:

  • 14 – 16 oz. bag of coleslaw
  • 2/3 cup Miracle Whip
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

In a bowl mix together the Miracle Whip, oil, sugar, vinegar, salt, and poppy seeds and then pour over slaw and mix well.  Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes, but 2 hours is better.

  • optional – add diced onion, cooked bacon crumbles, chopped salted roasted peanuts.  I do not usually add these for these sandwiches but it’s a nice unexpected twist on regular coleslaw.

Once it’s cooked, remove roast from crock pot and drain juices from the crock pot.  Put roast back in the crock pot and shred.  I find that 2 forks work very well.  Add the BBQ sauce of your choice and let the roast cook for another 15 minutes.  I don’t measure the sauce either.  Just go by how much you need to make sure all the shredded meat is well covered.

While the meat and BBQ sauce mix is cooking.  Turn oven broiler on low.  Cut Kaiser rolls in half and lightly butter the inside of the buns.  Place under the broiler to lightly toast.  Remove from oven, pile on the meat on bottom bun and then add coleslaw on top.  *Dill pickle slices also go well on these.  I didn’t have any when I made these the other day so they are not in the picture.

These go nicely with roasted corn on the cob, french fries, chips, etc…

Pulled Pork