December 31, 2013

Ham and Swiss Sticky Buns

Ham and Swiss Sticky Buns
Ham and Swiss Sticky Buns

I think I must have the messiest family on the planet. Women on-line are always showing and talking about their chore charts. How they break down everything into days so that they can get everything done. While I like the idea, it wouldn't work in my household. Doing one load of laundry a day would end in a huge pile by the end of the week. Only wiping down my bathroom counters and deep cleaning once a week doesn't work with three males in my house. My kitchen has to be cleaned daily, I cook and bake everyday. If it wasn't cleaned everyday it would be disgusting in a short amount of time. Maybe if I had less animals and the males in my house were a little cleaner that I could try the 15 minute a day cleaning charts. As it is I spend half of my day cleaning up from the day before and the other half cleaning up from the messes my kids made while I was cleaning up the first time. It's a vicious cycle.

On Christmas day I made one breakfast that I could eat and one recipe that everyone else could enjoy. My family loves ham, so the recipe I chose incorporated it. I tried a new recipe for Ham and Swiss Sticky Buns from the December 2013 issue of Southern Living magazine.
Spring Hill Cemetery Huntington, WV
Spring Hill Cemetery Huntington, WV

This recipe has 6 ingredients. It takes 1 hour and 10 minutes of total time, 20 minutes of which is active and makes 16 rolls. I did make a few changes to the original recipe. For the biscuits I used buttermilk country style biscuits. These are the type of biscuits that my family likes, plus they aren't too flaky or crumbly. I ended up with 20 buns, I made my buns a little on the smaller side. I found that they took approximately 35 minutes to cook, the extra 5 minutes would have made the buns overly browned.
Downtown Huntington, WV from Spring Hill Cemetery
Downtown Huntington, WV from Spring Hill Cemetery

My kids really liked this recipe. They thought the sweet and savory combination was delicious. My husband thought that the amount of ham should be doubled. He would have liked the recipe better if there was less biscuit and more ham and cheese. That being said he ate 3 for breakfast, so they were good either way. I liked that this recipe was very easy to prep and make. They also freeze well for quick re-heated weekday breakfasts.

For the recipe go to Ham and Swiss Sticky Buns.

December 28, 2013

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Sage

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Sage Before Cooking
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Sage Before Cooking

I hate going out on New Years, I always have. When I was younger I normally went to bed far before midnight and on the rare occasion I did stay awake I shied away from parties. It doesn't help that I am not a fan of champagne, it is too dry for my tastes. This year I will probably stay up with my husband watching movies. I like to keep things low key. On New Year's day I will make cabbage soup for good luck and that's it. Nothing fancy, no parties, just my family and a good meal. That's my idea of a great New Year's, simple and no-fuss.

For Christmas Eve I made a number of dishes. My kids and I love Brussels sprouts and I make them every year. This year I tried a new recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Sage from the December 2013 issue of Eating Well magazine.
Spring Hill Cemetery Huntington, WV
Spring Hill Cemetery Huntington, WV

This recipe has 7 ingredients. It takes 35 minutes of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 8 servings. I followed this recipe pretty close to the original. I used 3 ounce of pancetta since that is the size package I purchased at the grocery store. After 20 minutes the Brussels sprouts were still too crispy, so I allowed them to roast for another 15 minutes.
Ohio River
Ohio River 

My kids really loved this recipe. They are big Brussels sprouts fans and this recipe was no exception. The pancetta added a nice flavor to the vegetables and the sage was a perfect herb to go with the Brussels sprouts. With a 130 percent of the daily value of vitamin C per serving this recipe was a nice way to get a healthier side onto my Christmas Eve day meal.

For the recipe go to Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Sage.

December 24, 2013

Oatmeal Raisin Bars

Oatmeal Raisin Bars
Oatmeal Raisin Bars

The stress of the holidays is almost over. As much as I love watching my kids faces during Christmas morning and spending time with my family I am always relieved when all the chaos is over. For what seems like 3 months all everyone talks and think about is Christmas. This year stores had their Christmas decorations out before Halloween, making the holiday seem even longer than normal. I personally love the day after Christmas. My kids have new toys to distract them and I can sit and relax with a cup of coffee. No more shopping, wrapping, or cooking. Things can go back to the way they are the other 9 months of the year. Plus the New Year brings new things to look forward to and the ability to leave the stress of the last year behind us. So as Christmas comes tomorrow, I will be happy. My kids will be ecstatic with all the gifts, while I will be happy that I can relax, I survived another Christmas.

Since we have been eating lots of fattening foods the last couple of weeks, I have been trying to have snacks that are healthier. Today I tried a new recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Bars from the January issue of All You Magazine.
Spring Hill Cemetery Huntington, WV
Spring Hill Cemetery Huntington, WV

This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes 40 minutes of total time, 5 minutes of which is active and makes 9 bars. I only made a few changes to the original recipe. First, I substituted pepitas for the sunflower seeds called for in the recipe. My family loves pumpkin seeds and I use them in snacks frequently. Second, I found that I had to allow the bars to cook an additional 5 minutes in order for them to fully brown and set.
Spring Hill Cemetery Huntington, WV
Spring Hill Cemetery Huntington, WV

These bars taste more like baked oatmeal than they do raisin bars. I chose to pour maple syrup over two of the bars as a breakfast. I would suggest making a few changes to the original recipe. First, I would replace the raisins with fresh fruit. Fresh blueberries would be much lower in sugar and higher in vitamins than raisins. Second, I would add maple syrup to the bars in order to make them sweeter. As originally written the bars are a little on the not sweet side of things. I would suggest either adding maple syrup to the batter or eating the bars in a bowl with maple syrup drizzled over them. With a few modifications, these could be a great snack!

For the recipe go to Oatmeal Raisin Bars. 

December 23, 2013

Greek Yogurt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten Free/Reduce Sugar Greek Yogurt Chocolate Chip Cookies
Gluten Free/Reduce Sugar Greek Yogurt Chocolate Chip Cookies 

My husband and I don't exchange Christmas gifts. That's right, none whatsoever. We do give lots of gifts to our kids and parents etc., but we decided a long time ago that neither one of is into giving each other gifts on Christmas. Instead we give gifts throughout the year. My husband will see a new red wine at the store and bring me a bottle home as a surprise. Our television will break and he will find a great sale and buy one for out living room. One year when we were first married I spend months collecting all the figures for a series of Gothic novels that he was collecting. It wasn't a birthday or Christmas, it was a just because gift. To add to the Christmas gift weirdness I also hate jewelry. While most women would be elated if they received diamonds, I would take them back. I hate diamonds, my husband had to convince me to wear a wedding and engagement ring, I can't stand them. My ideal piece of jewelry is a single strand of real pearls with a little black dress, timeless, beautiful and perfect. I also love kitchen utensils, exercise gear and power tools. My husband and I are perfect for each other because I don't think I would get along in any other marriage. He gets me, I get him and we enjoy being unusual together.

As most of you know I have a huge sweet tooth. I love pretty much anything with sugar and hate most salty snacks (which is funny since all three males in my house could eat salt right out of the shaker). I try to reduce the overall amount of sugar and fat in my family's diet, especially around the holidays since we tend to eat more treats than the rest of the year. Last week I tried a new recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies made with Greek yogurt.
Confederate Memorial Spring Hill Cemetery Huntington, WV
Confederate Memorial Spring Hill Cemetery Huntington, WV

I made a few modifications to the original recipe. First, I eat gluten free so I tried the cookies both as written and then a batch that I made with coconut flour. Honestly, the coconut flour cookies almost turned out better, my boys loved them. Second, I made one batch with the full amount of sugar and the second batch with half sugar and half sugar substitute. They baked up the same as the full sugar version and it was nice having a lower fat/lower sugar cookie to snack on with my coffee in the afternoon. The gluten free version took a little longer to brown, which is normal with gluten free baking.
Albert Jenkins Grave Spring Hill Cemetery Huntington, WV
Albert Jenkins Grave Spring Hill Cemetery Huntington, WV

These cookies turned out really tasty. I love that they have Greek yogurt which reduces the total amount of fat and adds protein. They worked perfectly being made gluten free and reduced sugar, which is nice since I have dietary restrictions (Celiac Disease). I would definitely make this cookies again in the future!

For the recipe go to Greek Yogurt Chocolate Chip Cookies. 

Greek Yogurt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe Type: Dessert
A recipe for chocolate chip cookies using Greek yogurt (no butter or oil). Light, fluffy and can be made gluten free!
Preparation Time: 0h, 5m
Cooking Time: 0h, 10m
Total Time: 0h, 15m

December 21, 2013

Banana Banana Bread

Gluten Free Banana Banana Bread from allrecipes
Gluten Free Banana Banana Bread from allrecipes 

I read all the time. I am one of those people that goes to the library multiple times a week and checks out a stack of books. Part of the reason is that I read very fast. My mother taught me this trait and it only takes me a couple of days to finish a book. It was also my mother who instilled the love of reading in me. Growing up she read every night on the couch. While my dad and I watched television, my mother read, and read, and read. She barely graduated high-school, but had read more and had a larger vocabulary than most of the people I went to college with. When I was in middle school my mother decided that she wanted me to read all the classics. So she started bribing me. She started the bribes as a joke, she bet me 20 dollars that I couldn't finish War and Peace. War and Peace is a very long, very boring book. When I came to my mother 2 months later and told her I finished it she was skeptical, so much so that she decided to make a list of questions to quiz me about the book. I passed with flying colors and started reading Anna Karenina (another very long slightly less horrible book-sorry can't take Russian Lit). By the time I started high-school I was already finished with the entire high-school reading list. I went on to major in English Lit as an undergrad thanks a great deal to my mother. To this day there are few things as relaxing to me as being fully lost in a great book.

Since I have two boys in a growth spurt I have been baking and cooking up a storm in the last couple of weeks. I love sweet foods, but I also like to limit the amount of fat and sugar that my family consumes. This week I made a new recipe for Banana Banana Bread from the new Allrecipes magazine.

This recipe has 7 ingredients. It takes 1 hour and 15 minutes of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 12 servings. I did make a number of major changes to the original recipe. First since I eat gluten free I substituted rice flour for the all-purpose flour. Since I have been trying to reduce the amount of fat in my kids diet I substituted 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt for the butter called for in the recipe. This helped to reduce the fat and increase protein since the yogurt I used had 12 grams of protein per 1/2 cup. Finally, I made this recipe two ways, the first time with the full amount of sugar and the second time with half sugar and half sugar substitute. Both ways baked up similar and my kids liked both versions. The reduced sugar version was nice since it was less sweet and made perfect toast.

I really liked that this banana bread worked well after all my changes. The bread rose beautifully and had a lot of banana flavor. The reduced sugar version worked very well toasted with butter or peanut butter for a quick breakfast. My kids didn't notice that I substituted Greek yogurt for the butter and I liked that it reduced the fat and increased the protein. A versatile recipe.

For the recipe go to Banana Banana Bread.

December 20, 2013

Slow Cooker Zesty Bean Posole

Slow Cooker Zesty Bean Posole Better Homes and Gardens December 2013
Slow Cooker Zesty Bean Posole Better Homes and Gardens December 2013

I have a least favorite chore, laundry. Our washer and dryer is in the basement and with two boys I literally do laundry everyday. Before kids I never though that laundry was that bad, we had maybe 3-4 loads a week tops. Then my youngest arrived and the laundry started to pile up, and up, and up. After the arrival of my second son I decided that laundry was my arch enemy. Every time I washed something it just ended up being dirty again. Now part of the reason that we go through so much laundry is that I don't use paper towels. Instead I use cleaning rags and I clean my kitchen and bathroom top to bottom everyday. While that might seem extreme with three males in the house the bathroom would smell less than pleasant within two days, it's a must to have a full cleaning daily. The kitchen gets scrubbed since I cook and bake so frequently. If I don't stay on top of things in the kitchen it would turn into chaos. I also use separate washcloths and dish clothes when I do dishes each time (that's right no dishwasher in our house) so that adds to the mountain of laundry as well. Eventually my kids can start helping with the folding and putting away part of the mess, I am awaiting that day with glee.

There is a theme in my kitchen this week - the slow cooker. Right before holidays I tend to make a lot of crock-pot meals. They save me time and money and I love them. Plus I can eat the leftovers again in a couple of weeks making less work for me after the stress of the holidays. This week I tried a new recipe for Slow Cooker Zesty Bean Posole from the December 2013 issue of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine.

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes 3 hours and 40 minutes of total time, 10 minutes of which is active and makes 6 servings. I did make a few changes to the original recipe. First, since my kids were going to eat the recipe I used mild salsa. For the chicken broth I used homemade, which I don't salt, I salt at the table or in the recipe instead. I can't eat all-purpose flour so I substituted corn starch, which is a great gluten free alternative in soup and stew recipes calling for regular flour. I allowed the soup to cook or 8 hours on low in the crock-pot since I could start it in the morning and be done until dinner.

For a dump recipe (most ingredients are canned) this recipe turned out very well. It was delicious and the flavors worked really well together. My husband and two boys really liked this soup. It was mild due to using mild salsa, which made the recipe very kid friendly. If you like your posole on the spicy side I would recommend using spicier salsa.

For the recipe go to Slow Cooker Zesty Bean Posole.

Slow Cooker Zesty Posole

Recipe Type: Main
A easy slow cooker recipe for posole, only 9 ingredients. Can be modified to be vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
Preparation Time: 0h, 10m
Cooking Time: 3h, 30m
Total Time: 3h, 40m
Yield: Serves 6

December 19, 2013

Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos Al Pastor With All the Fixings

Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos Al Pastor With All the Fixings
Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos Al Pastor With All the Fixings

I finally put up my Christmas tree today. For whatever reason I was unmotivated to do it earlier in the month. A large part of my lack of motivation had to do with the fact that going into our front hall closet literally takes hours. Everything is nicely organized, but it requires lots of moving of bins and when a 5-year-old is helping it seems to take 10 times as long. I also finished wrapping all the Christmas gifts that needed to be done. Granted some of them were customized by my youngest with 6 different gift tags, but they're done all the same. I wrapped everything in the same roll of wrapping paper, the idea of going back into the closet for the other rolls just wasn't happening. Regardless, the presents are wrapped, the tree is up, and I finished my meal plan and grocery list for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Overall, it was a productive day and I got it all done before my oldest got home for the last day before holiday break. Now I just have to hope that my two boys don't cause the tree to come crashing down or open all the gifts when I'm not looking (with two boys anything can happen).

I've been keeping my meal plans simple the last couple of weeks. My crock-pot has been used numerous times to save time and I love that I have leftovers for at least another meal. This week I tried a new recipe for Slow Cooker Pork Tacos Al Pastor with All the Fixings from the December 2013 issue of Southern Living Magazine.
Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos Al Pastor With All the Fixings Southern Living December 2013
Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos Al Pastor With All the Fixings Southern Living December 2013

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes 8 hours and 20 minutes of total time (including crock-pot time), 20 minutes of which is active, and makes 8 to 10 servings. I did make a few changes to the original recipe. First since I eat gluten free I used gluten free beer instead of white ale. I bought one big can of pineapple tidbits instead of two smaller cans since per ounce the bigger size was a better deal. For the topping I used goat cheese, cilantro and avocado. My boys aren't big fans of radishes so I left them out.

This recipe made a lot of food. There was more than enough for my family of 4 plus leftovers for another two lunches. My husband absolutely loved these tacos. They were some of the best tacos he thought that I had made in a long time. I love that everything was done in the crock-pot, making for a quick and easy weeknight meal. The tacos are a little on the spicy side so if you like dishes milder or if you have kids you might want to leave out the crushed red pepper or reduce the amount of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Overall a great taco recipe that I would definitely make again in the future.

For the recipe go to Slow Cooker Pork Tacos Al Pastor with All the Fixings.

Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos Al Pastor With All the Fixings

Recipe Type: Main
A flavorful pork taco recipe that is done completely in the crock-pot. Slow cooking the pork in pineapple and beer makes for delicious and easy tacos!
Preparation Time: 0h, 20m
Cooking Time: 8h, 8m
Total Time: 8h, 20m
Yield: Serves 8

December 18, 2013

Soy Protein Sports Nutrition Review and Giveaway

Disclosure: The products, information and two gift packs have been provided by DuPont Nutrition and Health. As always all opinions expressed are solely my own. 
Giveaway Pack of Soy Protein Sports Nutrition Items 

I have always been an extremely active person. When I was 5 my mother took me into the doctor with yet another sprained ankle and she decided putting me in dance or gymnastics classes would be a good idea. My mother chose to put me into ballet and swimming lessons. From that point forward I had some sort of physical activity every night of the week. When I was in my 20's I started running road races and marathons. I loved them and completed a number of marathons with great times. Then I had kids and I had to cut back on the amount of time I can spend outside of the house. Now I still work out at least an hour a day, I just tend to do it on my treadmill and with free weights at home. I also do yoga (and have since I lived in Seattle) and meditate to round out my overall health.

When I found out I had Celiac Disease and had to go gluten free I struggled with finding nutrition bars and snacks that fit my needs. While I love making everything from scratch after a 45 minute run on the treadmill I sometimes I just want something quick and easy. Given my lifestyle I was intrigued when I was sent a the following items from DuPoint Nutrion and Health: Eat-Smart Bar, Nogii Protein Bar and NOW Energy Bar, as well as a “Powered by Soy Protein” Traveler Exercise Kit.

Here is a little background on Soy Protein:

• Soy protein is a high‐quality, plant‐based protein derived from soybeans

• Soy protein preserves lean body mass, promotes fat loss, and boosts satiety during weight loss

• A blend of proteins – soy, whey and casein, prolongs muscle building after exercise and increases recovery compared to whey alone

• Soy protein promotes muscle growth and development

• Soy protein is equivalent to whey protein for building muscle when consumed as part of a resistance training program

• Soy protein has the ability to displace fat and sugar calories
Soy Protein Bars

The NOW Energy Bars and the Nogii Protein Bar are both gluten free. The Nogii bars that I tried were the High Protein Chocolate Coconut Bar and the Paleo Nuts About Berries Bar. I love that the bars are gluten free since I have to eat gluten free products in my diet. The Chocolate Coconut bar was delicious, I would definitely look for it at the store! It is also high in protein with 17 grams per bar. 

To find out more about the bars go to the following websites: 

Relevant Website Links:

· Eat-Smart:

· Now Energy Bars:

· Nogii Nutrition Bars -

Now for a giveaway. Right now you can enter to win the very same gift pack that I was sent. It has the following items: Eat-Smart Bar, Nogii Protein Bar and NOW Energy Bar, as well as a “Powered by Soy Protein” Traveler Exercise Kit. 

Enter though the rafflecopter form below, good luck everyone! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

December 17, 2013

TYLENOL®: SMILING IT FORWARD™ Campaign #SmilingItForward

Disclaimer: I have received information and products from McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc., the makers of TYLENOL®. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks.
I'm SMILING IT FORWARD™ because as a mother of two boys I have had many sleepless nights with a sick kid. When my youngest was little he suffered from frequent earaches and had a horrible time with running a fever. He was miserable and all that I wanted to do was have him feel better and see his beautiful smile again. My family has been lucky that we have always had access to great medical care and never been without insurance. When my youngest was sick we were able to take him to the doctor so I could see his adorable smile come back quickly. However, not all families are as lucky and many kids in our country go without basic doctor care.

That's where TYLENOL® is stepping in with their SMILING IT FORWARD™ campaign. Right now through mid-January, moms across the country can join in by sharing their own smiles at, prompting TYLENOL® to make a $1 donation to Children’s Health Fund, up to $100,000, helping to ensure a doctor's visit is always within reach for children in need.

Alyson Hannigan, the star of the television show How I Met Your Mother, was the first to start the campaign with the first “smile” of her two daughters Satyana, 4, and Keeva, 1. Her share triggered the first donation from TYLENOL® to Children’s Health Fund, an organization well-known for its mobile medical clinics that provide healthcare services to underserved children throughout the U.S.

I have many photos of my kids after they start to feel better, that great whole face smile when you know that the worst is over. Now you can share your own smiling photos for a good cause. Follow my lead and share your own photo that makes you smile on the SMILING IT FORWARD™ website
Right now TYLENOL®is inviting anyone 18 and older to share a photo that makes them smile on Each photo approved & shared will trigger a $1.00 donation from TYLENOL® to Children’s Health Fund, with a minimum donation of $75,000. A great way to support a cause and share cute photos of your kids at the same time!

December 16, 2013

Dockers Game Day Khaki Line: Show Off Your School Spirit

Disclaimer: I received a product sample and compensation for completing this post. As always all opinions expressed are solely my own. 
Dockers UK Game Day Khakis
Dockers UK Game Day Khakis 

I grew up with a sports fanatic, my father. He had grown up around boys and wasn't sure what to do with an only child who was a girl. I quickly learned to love baseball, basketball and football if I wanted to spend quality one on one time with him. We went to a lot of sporting events just the two of us. My father steered me towards which sports teams I was allowed to love (Seahawks, Packers, Mariners) and which I could quickly gloss over. My father also wore and made me wear sports merchandise from the teams he was obsessed with. I'm pretty sure I have owned more Seahawks shirts and dresses than anyone else I know (yes you can buy football dresses).

After I moved 2500 miles away from home to West Virginia I found that I had moved into an area obsessed with college sports. My dad had always loved professional sports, so it took a transition in my way of thinking. The whole city of Huntington wears green and white when it's game day. I also live in a tri-state region. In Huntington people tend to route for Marshall (or WVU), but go across the river to Kentucky and they bleed blue and white, as in University of Kentucky. My husband's family lives in Kentucky and they are obsessed UK fans, they go to games, they take pictures with the players and they love UK like a religion. UK fans love their team and aren't afraid to show it.

While wearing a team jersey or t-shirt to a game or on weekends is fun, sometimes you want to be able to show your team spirit in a more fashionable manner. Docker's has come up with an answer. They have a new line of Game Day Khaki's for men which show off your school spirit. They are currently 70 dollars a pair and 10 teams are available: Oregon State, LSU, Texas A & M, Illinois, UK, WSU, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, and Georgia.
Dockers Game Day Khakis Front View
Dockers Game Day Khakis Front View

I was sent a pair of the UK Dockers Game Day Alpha Khaki, Slim Taper Fit pants. They came with UK colored confetti, which was a nice touch. The pants are well made and the UK symbol is small and on the back pants pocket.
Back Pocket of Khakis
They would be nice enough for a man to wear to work or to a game. The inside of the waist band is printed with a slogan, the one for UK is 'Go Big Blue'.

While these pants are geared towards men the proper length was not available in my husband's waist size. He is an off size for men's pants so I wasn't surprised that they weren't available. So instead the pair that I was sent was in my size and they fit me as well as a pair of women's khakis would have. Plus I like my khakis to have a little room around the waist and these pants did just that while coming down to a taper at the ankle. I know a lot of women that wear men's khakis to work or for a looser fitting pair of khakis in the summer. These khakis would be perfect for that purpose, especially the fit that I tried.

A nice way to show school spirit while looking fashionable. These khakis would also make a great Christmas gift for a college sports fan!

To find out more about the Game Day Khaki Line and to purchase a pair for yourself go to the Dockers Game Day Site.

December 14, 2013

Bucatini with Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti with Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce
Spaghetti with Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce

Christmas seems to bring out the nasty in people. I try to keep my wits and attitude in check myself, but I oftentimes find myself sliding into a bit of the nasties as well. I think it's a combination of stress, stress, and more stress. As women and mothers we tend to put everyone else's needs above our own. The presents have to be perfectly picked out, the Christmas dinner fabulous. We stay up late making sure that our holiday cards are addressed, signed and out on time. Don't forgot the letters to Santa, outfits for dinner, photos, tree decorating, the list goes on and on. The more television, social media and general holiday overload works its way into our lives the more crazy we drive ourselves. I think all of us needs to just sit back and take a breath. If you are the woman that snapped at me because I was in front of you at the milk case, you might need another coffee or possibly a nap. My holiday wish for all of us is that we can all sleep in until noon, let somehow else take care of the kids and bask in our own awesomeness (even if most of us forgot to leave milk and cookies for Santa). Since we all know that won't happen I hope that each and every one of us can take a moment to look at our family and realize, it's okay if the turkey is still frozen at Christmas dinner, the presents can go into a bag, and most of all it's okay to have that 4th cup of coffee. The Christmas season is only another week and a half of chaos. We all will somehow make it through, hopefully without going crazy at people in the mall parking lot (myself included-why are there never enough spots!!).

I have been short on recipe posts in the last week thanks to offline responsibilities. However, I have still been baking and cooking new dishes so my readers will have posts to enjoy in the next couple of weeks. A couple of weeks back I tried a great new recipe for Bucatini with Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce from the November 2013 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine.
Snow in Huntington, WV
Snow in Huntington, WV

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes 1 hour of total time, 20 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. I did make a few changes to the original recipe. First I substituted spaghetti for the bucatini. My kids prefer spaghetti and I wanted to minimize dinner time food battles. I used 3 anchovies since the fillets that I had were small. Finally, I allowed the sauce and pasta to cook approximately 6 minutes in order for all the liquid to absorb.
Snow in Huntington, WV
Snow in Huntington, WV

This was a very popular recipe in my house. My husband and two boys were big fans of the sauce. I ate my sauce over fried polenta, which was also delicious. The nice thing about the sauce portion of the recipe is that it could be used with another pasta, over polenta or even over rice or chicken. It has a variety of uses, making it a nice recipe to have in your recipe collection.

For the recipe go to Bucatini with Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce.

Recipe Type: Main
A simple recipe for pasta with a butter roasted tomato sauce. The sauce would also be delicious over polenta or with chicken. A versatile recipe!
Preparation Time: 0h, 20m
Total Time: 1h, 0m
Yield: Serves 4

December 12, 2013

Holiday Baking with McCormick: Spiced Nuts Recipe

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of McCormick. I received compensation in exchange for this post. As always all opinions expressed are solely my own.

McCormick Spiced Nuts
McCormick Spiced Nuts

As most of you know I cook and bake almost everyday. Since I eat gluten free I often have to modify baked recipes to fit my needs. Over the past year of eating gluten free I have learned a number of things. The biggest of which is that I prefer snacks like nuts or other high protein snacks more than I did when I could eat baked goods with gluten. I absolutely love trying new snack recipes with nuts. They are an easy snack to grab and go and keep my energy levels up and my sugars from crashing. Nuts are also a great party food. I often make 2 or 3 different type of nuts as appetizer during the holidays. They are delicious and easy to put in bowls without needing forks, toothpicks etc.

I know that most of us are trying desperately to finish the last bits of our holiday planning. One of the biggest challenges can be what to serve. While I love using traditional recipes I also love trying out a few new ones. Need a little inspiration in the recipe department? Look no further, here is a great recipe using McCormick brand spices that is easy to put together and I'm sure will please your guests. Best of all the ingredients are easy to find at most grocery stores and I was able to buy everything for less than 10 dollars. Who doesn't like saving money during the holidays? Without further ado here is the McCormick recipe for Spiced Nuts using three of their spices:
McCormick Products Needed For Spiced Nuts Recipe
McCormick Products Needed For Recipe

Spiced Nuts
Printed with Permission
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Makes 18 servings

1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons McCormick ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon McCormick ground Allspice
1/2 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1 egg white
3 cups mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans etc.)

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Mix sugar, cinnamon, allspice and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl beat eggwhite until foamy. Add nuts to egg white, mix well. Add spice mix and coat nuts evenly.

2. Spread nuts in an even layer on a greased baking sheet.

3. Bake one hour, stirring once. Cool slightly and break apart. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

A great recipe to add to your recipe collection this holiday season!

For the recipe for the McCormick spiced nuts go to Spiced Nuts. You can also find other great recipes to try in your home kitchen during the holidays and year round. 

December 10, 2013

Gluten Free Reduced Sugar Chocolate Cake Using Swerve Sweetener #Switch2Swerve

Disclosure: I am being compensated to participate in a challenge to switch out my regular sweetener to Swerve Sweetener through the Bookieboo Influencer Network, however all opinions are honest and my own. 
Gluten Free Reduced Sugar Chocolate Cake Using Swerve Sweetener #switch2swerve
Gluten Free Reduced Sugar Chocolate Cake Using Swerve Sweetener

The holidays are a busy time in my home kitchen. I bake and cook frequently, not only for my family to enjoy, but to give as gifts to friends and family. Since I have a massive sweet tooth, but a family history of diabetes and I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance last year I have to be careful of what I eat not just during the holidays, but year round. Most of the year I follow the everything in moderation route. I don't eat a ton of anything except vegetables and drink a lot of water. I snack throughout the day and bond with my treadmill while watching television. However, I also don't deny myself cravings. I have found that if I tell myself no all the time I end up over indulging rather than having a small amount. So I do enjoy baking and I allow myself the occasional cookie or piece of cake, especially during the holidays.

As I talked about in a previous post I have been using Swerve Sweetener for the last month as part of my ambassadorship with the company. So how is it going? So far it has worked well. In many of the recipes I have tried I reduced the sugar, not completely replaced it since gluten free baking can have issues with consistency. Here are pictures of a few of the recipes I have tried using the sweetener:
Sweet Potato Biscuits Made With Swerve Sweetener #switch2swerve
Sweet Potato Biscuits Made With Swerve Sweetener

Oat Bread Sweetened with Swerve Sweetener #switch2swerve
Oat Bread Sweetened with Swerve Sweetener

Gluten Free Reduced Sugar Cranberry Bundt Cake Using Swerve Sweetener #switch2swerve
Gluten Free Reduced Sugar Cranberry Bundt Cake Using Swerve Sweetener

Today I made a gluten free reduced sugar chocolate cake. It started out that it was going to have frosting, but I ran out of butter, so the middle was frosted while the top had a blueberry compote and whipped cream sweetened with Swerve. Here is the recipe:

1 3/4 cups white rice flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup Swerve Sweetener
3/4 cups cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs at room temp
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot coffee

Combine white rice flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl combine canola oil, eggs, buttermilk, sugar, Swerve, eggs, and vanilla extract. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and combine (you can do this by hand or with your mixer). Add coffee, only mix batter until it is combined, do not over mix or you will end up with a less fluffy cake. Bake in two 8 inch cake pans in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.

For the topping I combined 2 cups of frozen blueberries, 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, 3 tablespoons water, and 1/3 cup sweetener. I let it boil until it thickened and then cooled it before serving. Then I topped the cake with real whip cream sweetened with a small amount of Swerve and a bit of pure vanilla extract.

So far swapping out my normal sweetener for Swerve has gone well. I don't normally eat a large amount of sugar, so it has been a pretty easy switch. The nice thing is that "Swerve measures out cup for cup just like sugar, so you don’t have to worry about doing any crazy math to figure out how to use it in your recipes."

For more information go to the following links:

December 9, 2013

Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Review with Recipes for Gluten Free Brownies and Smokey Fried Chickpeas

Disclaimer: I received free products from Smiley360 and Pompeian in order to facilitate this review. As always all opinions expressed are my own.

Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Products
Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Products

I bake and cook almost everyday. I am also very conscious of what I eat and often modify recipes to use heart healthy ingredients or to be gluten free (thanks to genetics I have celiac disease). While I love the taste of butter, high cholesterol and heart disease run on my husband's side of the family and my mother struggled with multiple health issues her whole life. Therefore my house is full of canola, olive oil, walnut oil, and most recently grapeseed oil. I had heard a lot about grapeseed oil, but had never tried it in my home kitchen until recently I was given the opportunity by Smiley360 and Pompeian.

So what is Pompeian Grapeseed Oil? It is a light flavored oil that comes from delicate wine grapes that reduce absorption and preserves the natural flavor of food. It can be used in stir-fry, sautéing, grilling or baking. It is rich in Vitamin E and comes as a traditional oil or as a Grapeseed Oil Spray. Pompeian Grapeseed Oil spray can contains no propellants because of the newly designed pouch system, which also protects the oil from damaging light. It also has a neat top which always you to control the type of spray.

I chose to use the oil and oil spray in two recipes. The first recipe was for Smokey Fried Chickpeas and is as follows:
Smokey Fried Chickpeas
Smokey Fried Chickpeas

Smokey Fried Chickpeas 
Printed with permission
Makes 4 servings


1 cup Pompeian Grapeseed Oil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 tsp. salt
2 large cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
2 tsp. smoked paprika

1. Dry chickpeas thoroughly with paper towels.

2. Using a candy thermometer, heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high until it reaches 355 degrees. Add chickpeas, zest and thyme to pan in batches to avoid overcrowding.

3. Fry chickpeas for about 5 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with paprika and salt. Serve immediately.

The second recipe that I tried I modified myself. It can be really hard to find great gluten free recipes, especially when it comes to dessert. I modified a brownie recipe to be both gluten free and to use Grapeseed oil instead of butter. Here is the recipe: 
Gluten Free Grapeseed Oil Brownies
Gluten Free Grapeseed Oil Brownies

Gluten Free Grapeseed Oil Brownies

1/2 cup Pompeian Grapeseed Oil
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Combine Grapeseed Oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Add in cocoa powder until combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until combined. Pour into an 8 inch pan sprayed with Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Spray. Bake 30 minutes. The brownies will be very loose when they are done, do not continue cooking. Pull out and let cool at least 45 minutes. After cooling they well set nicely, just don't cut them before they are cool. 

The Grapeseed Oil was great. It was nice having two forms to work with. The spray bottle on the oil spray was very easy to use and came out smoothly. The Grapeseed oil was a nice substitute for butter in the brownies and baked perfectly. These are products I would definitely use again in the future.

For more product information, click here

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