September 18, 2014

Oven Baked Smores and Iced Coffee Floats, It's Starting to Feel Like Fall #FebrezeFall


#sponsored Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Febreze. As always all opinions expressed are solely my own. 




I love fall. The smells, the food, the weather, I love it. Our weather has just started to cool down into the 40's at night and it's the perfect time of year. Not too cold and the humidity is perfect. There are certain scents and foods that I associate with this time of the year. When I smell these scents I feel like fall has arrived. Febreze has captured a few of these scents in their new Febreze Fall Home Harvest Collection. 

The new Fall Home Harvest Collection line by Febreze helps to transition into fall with the scents of Toasted Almond, Sugared Cranberry, Spiced Pear, Vanilla Latte
and Autumn Harvest. Whether you are looking for a car air freshener, candles, or scented plug-ins they have what your looking for.

Recipes are another great aspect of fall and Febreze has come up with two great recipe, one for Oven Baked Smores and the other for an Iced Coffee Float. The recipes are as follows.



Oven Baked Smores

Ingredients
  • 8 graham crackers
  • 8 marshmallows
  • 2 chocolate bars
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Break graham crackers in half and place 8 halves on a baking sheet.
  3. Gently press down on each marshmallow so they are slightly flatten out.
  4. Place one marshmallow on each graham cracker on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake until marshmallows are puffed up and browned.
  6. The total amount of time will depend on your oven.
  7. My oven took approximately 10 minutes.
  8. Remove baking sheet and place a piece of chocolate on each marshmallow.
  9. Top with another graham cracker half if desired, or eat as is.



Iced Coffee Float

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces coffee
  • 2 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • a big dollop whipping cream
Cooking Directions
  1. Brew coffee.
  2. Place an 8 ounce cup of coffee into the fridge to cool.
  3. Scoop two scoops of ice cream into a glass.
  4. Pour coffee over ice cream.
  5. Top with whipped cream.
For more information go to the following sites: 

Website: http://wm6.walmart.com/febreze-brand-store.aspx
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/febreze
Twitter: https://twitter.com/febreze_fresh

September 12, 2014

Lemon Yogurt Cupcakes with Fresh Raspberry Frosting



I still have my maiden name even though my husband and I have been married over 10 years. The thought of changing to my husband's name was never something that I ever really though about. My husband and I were both working on our master's degrees when we got married and professionally it made more sense to keep my maiden name. Plus I joked with my husband that I wasn't property and there was no reason I needed a new identity just because we got married. Oftentimes I have to explain to people that yes my husband and I are married, no I did not change my name. Honestly, I find the whole thing a big hassle and not something that makes my marriage any stronger. A commitment is a commitment whether I took his name or not. I'm no more likely to get divorced due to a different last name than if we shared the same. My oldest uses my different last name as a source of pride, he tells people that his mommy is strong enough to be different. I love his saying and it's the perfect description of how I run my life and the values that I want my kids to understand. A unifying bond has nothing to do with a shared last name, it has to do with the love that connects the people within it.



One thing that brings my family together is dessert. We all love dessert. My husband is picky about the kind of dessert, but my kids and I will pretty much eat anything with sugar. Since sugar should be eaten in moderation, we don't enjoy dessert all the time. When I do make sweet goods I also try to modify the ingredients to be healthier by using alternative flours and natural sugars. Recently I tried a new recipe for Lemon Yogurt Cupcakes with Fresh Raspberry Frosting. The recipe is as follows.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living.




Lemon Yogurt Cupcakes

Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grate lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl combine butter, sugar, and lemon zest.
  4. Beat with a mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes.
  5. Add in lemon juice, vanilla, and egg.
  6. Slowly add flour mixture to wet ingredients.
  7. Add yogurt just until the batter comes together.
  8. In a paper lined or greased muffin tin add the batter to each cup 3/4 of the way full.
  9. Bake 18-20 minutes.
  10. Let cool before frosting.

Fresh Raspberry Frosting

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Place berries and sugar in a food processor and puree.
  2. Using a sieve or cheesecloth pass mixture through pressing out solids.
  3. Beat butter until fluffy, approximately 2 minutes.
  4. Add sugar 1/2 cup at a time.
  5. Add berries until frosting is light and fluffy.
  6. Store in the fridge for up to two days.
Tips: 
  • Paper liners make it much easier to take the cupcakes out of the muffin tin. 
  • I have used both Greek yogurt and regular and they both worked well, plus the Greek yogurt has added protein. 
  • Don't worry if a few seeds get into the frosting, after they are pureed in the food processor they really aren't noticeable. 
  • I tried the frosting with a small amount of almond extract and it was delicious. A small amount of vanilla extract would also work. 

September 9, 2014

Roman Meal Oaxaca Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Avocado Jalapeno Dipping Sauce

#sponsored Disclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Roman Meal. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.



With two growing boys in my house we eat a lot of sandwiches, and when I say a lot, I mean a lot. About 20 minutes after I feed one of my kids they are hungry again, and still stay bean pole thin. While I make most of my bread from scratch there are weeks when my schedule is tight and we rely on store bought bread. When buying bread from the store I like to try to pick the freshest and healthiest options for my family. Recently, I was given the opportunity to try Roman Meal bread and create a recipe in my home kitchen. 

So what is Roman Meal bread? Roman Meal bread is baked locally at regional bakeries all across the United States. They have partnered with more than 90 regional bakeries to bring freshly baked bread to your local grocery store as part of their “Baked Fresh Locally” initiative. These partnerships make it possible for Roman Meal bread to never be frozen and not have to travel long distances. 

Their Roman Meal Whole Grain's are a good source of Vitamin D, calcium, and fiber. The breads are made from a sweet and soft whole grain blend of whole wheat, whole rye, wheat bran, wheat germ and flaxmeal, with hints of honey and molasses. The Roman Meal Company was one of the first companies to offer whole grain bread nationwide. 

I received a package of Roman Meal bread to make a recipe in my home kitchen. Since updated grilled cheese sandwiches are all the rage right now in the foodie community I came up with a recipe for an Oaxaca Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Avocado Jalapeno Dipping Sauce. The recipe is as follows. 



Oaxaca Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Avocado Jalapeno Dipping Sauce

Ingredients
  • 2 slices Roman Meal bread
  • sliced Oaxaca cheese
  • 2 large avocados
  • 2 large jalapeños
  • 2 large peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons feta cheese
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • pinch cilantro
  • salt to taste
Cooking Directions
  1. Assemble grilled cheese sandwich, buttering outside of bread. 
  2. Grill sandwich on either an indoor griddle or skillet until bread is browned and cheese has melted.
  3. Add jalapeños and garlic to a heated skillet over medium heat.
  4. Cook shaking the skillet for approximately 5 minutes, or until the jalapeño is blackened on all sides.
  5. Stem and seed the jalapeño and then add to blender along with garlic and remaining ingredients.
  6. Slowly add 1/2 cup water and puree until smooth.
  7. Transfer to a bowl and serve alongside the grilled cheese sandwich.
For more information go to the following links:
Roman Meal Website: http://www.romanmeal.com/
Roman Meal Facebook:https://twitter.com/Roman_Meal
Roman Meal Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/RomanMeal
To sign up for the Roman Meal Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Nxagx4

Now for the fun part! You can win Roman Meal bread coupon vouchers in order to try the bread for yourself. Enter through the rafflecopter form below. Winners are limited to the continental United States and must be 18 years of age or older.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

September 8, 2014

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting



I have a pet peeve with companies that follow a ton of people on social media and then unfollow everyone a few days later. While it's irksome when an individual does it, with a company it just comes off as a little tacky. We all know that the company is doing it to get massive amounts of people to follow them and then betting that most people either don't know how to check or don't care enough to unfollow the company once the company unfollows them. Then the company has 30,000 followers while only following 10 people. It looks bad. I wish that PR companies would do a better job of discouraging this behavior. Almost all the likes that they receive with this type of social media behavior won't be the ones buying their products, the followers don't equal profit. It's a much better idea to actually have a great product and offer coupons on social media, making people care enough to genuinely follow your company. I'm hoping that once companies get a better grasp on how to run social media effectively this behavior will begin to stop. However, as of now that isn't happening, it's pretty much  a free for all.

Since going gluten free I have tried just about every type of gluten free flour. Some have been okay, others kill my stomach (I'm referring to you soy and quinoa flours, no thanks). I've joked with my husband that I'm going to go to a straight steak and potato diet. It would taste awesome and my stomach would be happy. However, it would also cost a mint and variety is better for my health. Coconut flour seems to be all the rage right now, so the following is my recipe for Coconut Flour Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting.

Adapted from Healy Eat Real.




Coconut Flour Chocolate Cupcakes

Recipe by Foodie in WV

Yield: 8-10 cupcakes

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup milk
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend.
  3. Allow batter to sit for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Place batter into a muffin tin either greased or with muffin liners.
  5. Bake for 20-30 minutes.
  6. Let cool before frosting.



Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
Cooking Directions
  1. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer for 3 minutes. Add vanilla and cream and beat for another 1-2 minutes. If needed add more cream to get to a spreading consistency.
Tips: 
  • If you've never used coconut flour before it absorbs liquid like crazy. You have to use a lot more liquid than flour in order for baked goods made with coconut flour to work. 
  • These cupcakes are a mix between muffins and cupcakes. The texture is somewhere in between. 
  • If you don't consume cows milk you could try using coconut milk in this recipe. I often substitute canned coconut milk in baking recipes and it works well. 
  • The coconut oil could also be substituted for vegetable oil, canola oil, or unsalted butter. 
  • If you like sweet cupcakes/muffins I would increase the amount of honey to 1/2 cup. Additionally the honey can be substituted for date or coconut sugar (or granulated if you eat it in your diet). 
  • The frosting obviously has butter and confectioners sugar so if you are avoiding either of those things you would want to make a substitution. An easy way to make dairy free frosting is to whip a can of full fat coconut milk and a teaspoon or two of vanilla. You can add cocoa powder (or cacao) if you are wanting chocolate flavored, approximately 2 tablespoons. 

September 6, 2014

Peanut Butter Banana Popsicles



I am so ready for cooler weather. It has been hot, sticky, and nasty humid here for months. Luckily the weather is supposed to cool down into the high 70's next week, which I am so looking forward towards. One thing I do love about summer are the thunderstorms. There is something so refreshing about a great summer thunderstorm. Everything becomes quiet, the temps drop, and for a few minutes everything is still. It's peaceful, calming, and a great refresher during a busy day. Thunderstorms might just be my favorite thing about summer.

With hot weather comes cold desserts and drinks. My kids are in love with popsicles and they are so easy to make at home and cost a fraction of the cost of store bought. Plus you can use whole ingredients making them a delicious summer treat. The following is my recipe for Peanut Butter Banana Popsicles.

Adapted from Kroger mymagazine mailer.


Peanut Butter Banana Popsicles

A simple summer dessert using fresh bananas and peanut butter. Only takes minutes to make. 

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Cut bananas into 1-inch chunks. 
  2. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. 
  3. Spoon into an 8-serving popsicle mold and freeze until set, approximately 4 hours. 
  4. Stir wet ingredients into dry and mix until just combined (do not over mix).
Tips: 
  • If you don't have a blender a food processor would also work. 
  • I know a lot of people avoid granulated and brown sugar. I haven't personally tried this recipe with honey, agave etc., but I would love to hear if anyone tries and how it turns out! 
  • Run the popsicle mold under hot water to loosen the popsicles and they should pop right out. 
  • I have tried this recipe with whole and non-fat milk and they both set beautifully. I have not tried it with soy, almond, or coconut milk, but you are free to try and tell me if it works. 

    Peanut Butter Banana Popsicles


    Recipe Type: Dessert
    Preparation Time: 0h, 5m
    Total Time: 4h, 5m
    Yield: Serves 8

    September 4, 2014

    Banana Crumb Muffins



    I seem to be having a string of bad luck. For the last three weeks my family has been fighting hand, foot, and mouth disease. My youngest had it first, then my husband, and today I had to pick up my oldest who seems to have come down with the high fever and sore throat that begins the illness. During these three weeks my father managed to fall and break his hip requiring surgery 2500 miles away. That's a whole other story for another day. To add to it all my oldest was formally diagnosed with ADHD this summer (after three months of appointments) so we have been adjusting our lives to deal with the diagnoses. I'm feeling a little burnout out and as most of you have probably noticed my blog has taken a back seat. I though that once my kids were both in school that I would have more time during the day, that has failed to come to fruition so far. I'm hoping that things will calm down soon and I will be able to go back to blogging more regularly.



    When I'm stressed out I bake. I find baking to be almost therapeutic, it helps me to calm down and feel more like myself when life gets crazy. My kids love banana flavored anything so this week I made a new recipe for Banana Crumb Muffins. The recipe is as follows.

    Adapted from Taste of Home.


    Banana Crumb Muffins



    An easy banana muffin recipe with a delicious butter crumb topping. Great way to use over ripened bananas.

    Yield: 10 servings
    Calories per serving: 243
    Fat per serving: 9 grams

    Ingredients
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3 ripe bananas
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    Topping:
    • 1/2 cup melted butter
    • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
    Cooking Directions
    1. Combine dry ingredients together in a bowl.
    2. Mash bananas either with a fork or a blender/food processor (I prefer this method).
    3. Add bananas to sugar, egg, and butter and mix well.
    4. Stir wet ingredients into dry and mix until just combined (do not over mix).
    5. Grease a muffin pan.
    6. Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way full.
    7. Combine the sugar, cinnamon and flour for the topping.
    8. Add butter and mix until crumbly.
    9. Sprinkle topping mixture over the tops of the muffin batter.
    10. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 18-20 minutes.
    11. Let cool in pan 10 minutes.
    Tips: 
    • I have not tried making this muffins gluten free so I can't attest to whether they would turn out or not. 
    • The butter may be substituted for canola or vegetable oil. 
    • You could also experiment with using Greek yogurt instead of part of the butter to reduce the fat and increase the protein. I do this frequently with muffin recipes and it works well. 

    Banana Crumb Muffins


    Preparation Time: 0h, 15m
    Cooking Time: 0h, 20m
    Total Time: 0h, 35m

    August 21, 2014

    Banana Pancakes



    I am not a kid person. When someone that has a baby assumes that since I have kids I must love all babies, then hands me their tiny infant, I cringe. Don't get me wrong I don't hate kids, I just don't go crazy over every one that I see. I never have. Growing up I never wanted kids, the thought of raising tiny humans was never something that made sense to me. I hated babysitting, it was horrible and babysitting boys was the worst. They destroyed things, they never sat still and honestly I always thought I should be paid more to deal with them. As an adult I still don't enjoy the company of many kids. There are always the exception, but they seem to be few and far between. I seem to be in the minority given the fact that I love my two boys, I don't want to try for a girl, and while your kid might be cute I don't feel a biological attachment to them. Maybe growing up in the late 80's/early 90's has just left my generation a little more jaded, for better or for worse I am the way that I am.

    One thing that always makes me happy is pancakes. I love pancakes, I could eat them three times a day (if it wasn't nutritionally a horrible idea). My kids are pretty much the same way, but they love waffles and pancakes about equally. Since my household is also banana obsessed I make a lot of banana pancakes. The following is a recipe for banana pancakes (they freeze very well!).


    Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com


    Banana Pancakes

    Prep time: 5 minutes
    Cook time: 10 minutes
    Total time: 15 minutes
    Yield: 6 servings

    Ingredients
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 2 ripe bananas
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 beaten egg
    • 1 cup milk
    • 2 tablespoons melted butter
    Cooking Directions
    1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
    2. Sift dry ingredients through a flour sifter (this step isn't necessary, but it really does make for fluffier pancakes).
    3. Mash bananas either by using a potato masher, food processor, or blender. Using the blender or food processor makes for a better consistency throughout the pancakes and reduces the possibility of part of the pancakes staying uncooked.
    4. In a separate bowl combine egg, milk, butter and bananas.
    5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.
    6. Don't overmix, the batter will be a little lumpy.
    7. Heat either a frying pan on medium heat or a griddle with melted butter or oil.
    8. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter for each pancakes onto the griddle.
    9. Cook until middle is set and pancake is browned on each side.
    Tips: 
    • The melted butter can be substituted for canola or vegetable oil or if you are watching your fats applesauce. 
    • I have made this with 1 percent and non-fat milk and either one works fine. Whole or 2% would also work, I have not made it with almond or other non-dairy milks. 
    • The sugar could be substituted for honey, agave, or the sweetener you prefer. 
    • I have made this gluten free before by making my own oat flour. Making oat flour is very easy, just place whole oats in a food processor and process until finely ground. Homemade oat flour is a great homemade gluten free flour (make sure the oats you are using are gluten free and there are some people with gluten issues that have sensitivities to oats, so be careful if you just found out you have celiac disease etc.). 
    That's it! The pancakes in the photo I added dark chocolate chips and melted peanut butter. Just place peanut butter in the microwave for 20 seconds and it pours easily over pancakes (and it's great with ice cream and other desserts too-yummy!). 
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