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February 27, 2014

Blog Forward 2014 Challenge 1 #BlogForward

Disclaimer: I entered the ZonePerfect Blog Forward program and received complimentary product and ZonePerfect promotional items in order to facilitate this and future posts.  However, I am free to comment about ZonePerfect in a positive, neutral or negative fashion.
I try to eat healthy as often as possible. Most days I am successful, but as the mother of two boys I also have the days where I forget to eat anything except a handful of almonds and coffee before dinner time. Given that as I get older I am trying to make sure I take care of myself in addition to my family I am excited to be a part of the Blog Forward Challenge by ZonePerfect. Throughout the year they will be sending me products, tips, post topics etc. that I will share with all 
my readers. 
#BlogForward Challenge #1
#BlogForward Challenge #1
The first challenge and the topic of this post is to write 3 New Year's resolutions and write a letter to my future self in order to keep myself on track. So here goes: 
  • Take more time to myself. 
I am horrible about putting everyone else first. I wake up early everyday to make my husband's lunch and breakfast. One would think that I would also make myself something to eat, but oftentimes I don't. This year I am going to try to do a better job of making sure I take the time to do small things like make myself breakfast in order to keep my health in check. 
  • Learn to Relax
This goes along with resolution number one. I am going to make an attempt this year to let myself relax. I get busy doing 10 different things and forget that just sitting and reading a book, having a cup of tea etc is a good thing. This year I will try to make sure that I fit relaxation into my schedule. 
  • Eat Breakfast
This is the resolution that directly relates back to ZonePerfect. I go back and forth with my breakfast habits. Some weeks I am a rockstar and eat a healthy breakfast every day, other weeks I have coffee and nothing else. I am determined to change this habit this year. I am getting closer to 40 and I really need to start changing my breakfast habits. A number of the ZonePerfect bars that I was sent to try were gluten free and have a decent amount of protein. I have the stash in my cupboard and grab them when I forget to eat. I am slowly working on making sure I eat every morning (it will happen!). 

Dear Future Self, 

This year you will do a better job of taking care of yourself. The last two years have had hospitalized pneumonia and a antibiotic resistant case of strep. You are not young enough to let your health and well being not be a priority. In order to take care of other people you need to take care of yourself first. This year you will take the time to eat better, relax and remember it is okay to be a little selfish, you deserve it! 
#BlogForward Challenge #1
#BlogForward Challenge #1
Look for more posts to come (including giveaways) from ZonePerfect! Here are a few tips from ZonePerfect: 



February 26, 2014

Mango, Berry and Banana Smoothie

Mango, Berry and Banana Smoothie
Mango, Berry and Banana Smoothie

I thought that when my kids got older that my life would get easier. Boy was I wrong. My youngest is in a phase where he seems to eat all day long. As soon as he eats he is hungry again. I spend half of my day making and feeding him meals and snacks. The other half of the day I spend cleaning up his crafts and creative projects. I love that he creates projects etc, I just could do without all the mess that it takes for his creations to take shape. The work doesn't end with my youngest. Getting my oldest up in the morning can be nearly impossible some mornings. He moves so slowly. I feel like I have to nag him from the time he gets up just to make sure that we get to the bus on time. Most mornings we have to run the last block in order not to be late. Then the homework in the evening involves complaining and whining. I really hate whining, it's like nails on a chalkboard. I've decided that life for a mother doesn't get easier as their kids grow, just more complicated.

Since my mornings are almost always rushed I try to have meals that are quick and easy to make. Smoothies are one of my favorite since I can drink them on the way to the bus stop to drop off my oldest. Last week I tried a new recipe for Mango, Berry and Banana Smoothie from Bon Appetit Magazine.
Mango, Berry and Banana Smoothie
Mango, Berry and Banana Smoothie

This recipe has 7 ingredients. It takes 5 minutes of total time, all of which is active and makes 2 servings. I made a number of changes to the original recipe. First, my youngest kept eating all the frozen mangos that I bought. Therefore, I ended up with only 1/4 cup of mangos. I froze my banana before adding to the smoothie, left out the yogurt and added stevia. I found the smoothie as written was a little too thick so I added additional coconut water.
Mango, Berry and Banana Smoothie
Mango, Berry and Banana Smoothie



I am a huge smoothie fan. This smoothie was a nice change of pace, it had more of a tropical flavor than other smoothies I had tried before. It was too thick as written, my blender didn't want to even move. In order to make the recipe work I added additional coconut water. I think if I made the recipe again I would try it with pineapple. Pineapple and coconut are delicious together and would work very well with this recipe.

For the recipe go to Mango, Berry and Banana Smoothie. 

February 23, 2014

Strawberry Champagne Jam

Strawberry Champagne Jam
Strawberry Champagne Jam



I have a problem sitting still, I always have. My husband laughs at how many projects I have going on at any given time. As soon as I finish one project I'm already planning five more. Right now I am working on three craft projects and two home improvement projects. My youngest has decided to start his own craft project so that he can work alongside me, it's pretty cute. While I always have lots of projects going on, I am horrible about writing things out and making lists. Grocery lists I'm great about, but not cleaning, chore charts etc. My mother was list obsessed, she had lists that had baby lists. I have a basket, all the things that I need for my various projects are in that basket. When the basket is empty it's time for another project. The basket is rarely empty though, I prefer the chaos of having many projects going on at one time.

For New Year's Eve my husband and I bought a bottle of champagne. Then we fell asleep at 10 o'clock and never saw midnight. For Valentine's Day we opened the bottle, but each of us only drank a small glass. Since neither of us are big fans of champagne I decided to try a new recipe for Strawberry Champagne Jam with the leftovers.
Strawberry Champagne Jam
Strawberry Champagne Jam
This recipe has 5 ingredients. It takes one hour of total time, all of which is active and makes 6 cups of jam. I did make a number of changes to the original recipe. First, I increased the sugar to 2 cups. Since I was using cava, which is very dry and not very sweet I thought the increase in sugar was needed. Second, I mashed the strawberries with a potato masher. I like my jam to be full of fruit and mashing the berries helps in this regard. Finally instead of simmering for 15 minutes and then a 5 minute rapid boil, I boiled the jam until it hit the jam point (which I tested on a plate in the fridge). Then I water bathed for 10 minutes. I ended up with 4 small jars of jam.
Strawberry Champagne Jam
Strawberry Champagne Jam
The taste of this jam is sweet, but with a different undertone than regular strawberry jam. The champagne makes a nice change from regular jam and is a good way to use leftover champagne. My kids enjoyed the jam with homemade buttermilk biscuits, I ate the jam with coconut flour bread. Both ways it was delicious and something I would make again.
Strawberry Champagne Jam
Strawberry Champagne Jam
For the recipe go to Strawberry Champagne Jam.

February 18, 2014

Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes Using Quinoa Flour

Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes
Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes

Growing up once a year for my birthday my mom would buy a sheet cake from the Italian bakery. I would pretty much eat the entire sheet cake. I loved cake, and the Italian bakery sheet cake was delicious. My love affair with cake started with those birthday sheet cakes and only grew stronger once I started baking during my teen years. I would scour over cookbooks looking for new cake and cupcake recipes. Flash forward to a few years ago and my cake eating life was brought to a halt. I found out that I could no longer have gluten and I was devastated. Not only because I couldn't have pasta or bread, but because cake was taken away from me. I began trying various gluten free cake recipes using all purpose gluten free flour and pretty much hated all of them. Finally I came to the conclusion that I prefer straight flours, not store bought blends. Adding 10 different ingredients for one flour just isn't something that my taste buds seem to love. Now I try to use a variety of straight flours, some of which I have found I love and others I have never bought again. This week I tried a new recipe for Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes from the Bob's Red Mill site.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes Using Quinoa Flour
Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes Using Quinoa Flour



This recipe has 11 ingredients. It takes 30 minutes of total time, 10 minutes of which is active and makes 12 cupcakes. I made a few changes to the original recipe. First I used muffin liners that I got on clearance after Valentine's Day. I love when I only have to pay a few cents for liners. Second, I found that my baking time was a little longer than the recipe, 25 minutes total. Make sure to watch the cupcakes closely, they will go from done to burnt very quickly.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes Using Quinoa Flour
Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes Using Quinoa Flour

My kids loved these cupcakes. I was going to frost them, but my kids loved them plain. The fact that they ate the cupcakes without frosting says a lot since they are huge frosting fans. I was worried that the taste of the quinoa flour would be too strong, but they tasted chocolatey with no after taste. My husband thought that the quinoa flour tasted like peanut butter, which he really liked. Overall, these cupcakes were very popular with my family and I would make them again.

For the recipe go to Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes. 

February 15, 2014

Il Villaggio Cheese Review and Giveaway

Disclaimer: I received products in exchange for this review. As always all opinions expressed are my own. 
Il Villaggio Cheese 

I love cheese. Not a little bit, but I pretty much have had a life long love affair with cheese. When I was a vegetarian I was horrible about eating cheese and not much of anything else. I still love cheese, but now I use it as an ingredient to impart great flavor to dishes. A little bit of cheese can make an okay recipe into something great. I don't limit myself to just main dishes either, desserts can be made over the top by adding a small amount of mascarpone to add texture and flavor. Recently I was given the opportunity to try a variety of fresh cheeses from Il Villaggio. 

I was sent 6 cheeses to review: 2 gorgonzola, 2 mascarpone and 2 fresh mozzarella. When I opened the box I was very excited, recipes started racing through my head and I knew within a couple of hours what I would make with each of the cheese. So here is what I made: 
Gluten Free Pizza with Mozzarella and Gorgonzola 

I made two pizzas, one gluten free and one regular. I caramelized 2 lbs of onions, made a homemade garlic pizza sauce, sliced the mozzarella and baked at 425 for 20 minutes. Then I added gorgonzola and then baked for another 5 minutes. 
Mashed Potatoes with Gorgonzola Cheese and Bacon

The second recipe I made was gorgonzola mashed potatoes. I boiled 1 pound of baby red potatoes, added heavy cream, gorgonzola and crumbled crispy bacon along with salt once the potatoes were cooked and drained. 
Pumpkin Mascarpone Pie with Mascarpone Cream 

The final recipe I made was a pumpkin pie with mascarpone cream. Using mascarpone in desserts is delicious. It makes pies extra creamy and light. Using the cheese in whipped cream is a great way to make non-runny whipped cream that stays firm in the fridge for days. 
Pumpkin Mascarpone Pie with Mascarpone Cream

So how did the cheeses taste and work in recipes? They all worked very well in the recipes I tried. I hadn't baked with mascarpone in a while, so it was nice to use it again. It's one of my favorite cheeses to use in desserts. The flavors were great and the cheeses arrived fresh and ready to use. These would be cheeses that I would buy at the grocery store and enjoy in recipes or as is. 

Now for the fun part! You can try the same cheeses that I enjoyed by entering my giveaway below. No PO Boxes, US only. Good luck everyone! 

To find out more about the cheeses including recipes go to the following link: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

February 13, 2014

My Dad is #kindawesome / A Review of KIND Healthy Grains Bars

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

KIND Healthy Grains Bars
KIND Healthy Grains Bars

I grew up an only child in a large extended family. My mother was the oldest of twelve children and our house was always busy. Really busy. Then there was my dad, he was the solid figure among the chaos. We would go to baseball games, fast food runs, and the park just the two of us. Most of the time we wouldn't even really talk, we just enjoyed the silence. As an adult my mother passed away when my oldest was 9 days old and then my dad became very ill. We had always had a strong bond, but it became even stronger. We started talking everyday on the phone, oftentimes about nothing in particular, just to know that the other person was on the other side of the line. It's the same as sitting at the park together not saying much at all just with a little farther distance in-between. My dad is my own personal super hero who keeps me grounded and is #kindawesome for so many reasons, he is my rock.
KIND Healthy Grains Bars Dark Chocolate Chunk
KIND Healthy Grains Bars Dark Chocolate Chunk

As many of you know I eat gluten free (not by choice I have Celiac Disease). KIND bars have a new variety of KIND Healthy Grain Bars that are gluten free. Each bar contains 18-22 grams of whole grains sourced from a blend of 100% unique whole grains including amaranth, quinoa, gluten-free oats, millet and buckwheat making them the perfect snack for any super hero’s healthy lifestyle.

The bars are available in the following flavors: 
  • Dark Chocolate Chunk
  • Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate
  • Vanilla Blueberry
  • Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt
  • Oats & Honey with Toasted Coconut
KIND Healthy Grains Bars Dark Chocolate Chunk
KIND Healthy Grains Bars Dark Chocolate Chunk

I was sent 10 KIND Healthy Grain Bars to try for myself and review. Since I eat gluten free it can be hard to find bars that both taste good and meet my dietary restrictions. When the box arrived I was very excited to see how great the flavors sounded, I am a big stickler for anything with dark chocolate, so the dark chocolate bars stood out right away. After trying all ten bars, the Dark Chocolate Chunk and the Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate flavors were my favorite. They were delicious and great for an afternoon snack. I like that they aren't too heavy, but are still packed with whole grains. Even my two boys loved the bars, which is saying a lot since they tend not to gravitate towards my gluten free snacks. It's nice having another gluten free option on the grocery store shelves! 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

February 11, 2014

Winter Vegetable Dal

Winter Vegetable Dal
Winter Vegetable Dal

I want my kids to fail. That's right I don't want my kids to succeed at everything they try. Why? Failure is one of the most important lessons we should be imparting to our kids. Let me provide a little background to my reasoning. My son came home from school last week and informed me that everyone got a ribbon for participating in a school event. Great, so everyone wins for doing nothing. I know that sounds a little harsh, but good old fashioned competitiveness is not a bad thing. I failed a lot growing-up. I tried basketball, softball, gymnastics and I was horrible at all of them. Then I discovered swimming and I was great at it. The pleasure I got from succeeding was that much better since I knew what it was like to be horrible at something. In college I had a professor inform me that I didn't understand anything about the concept of 'national identity' and that I should avoid a degree in English. I ended up getting my BA in English Literature and wrote my master's thesis on national identity and geography. However, if I hadn't done horribly in that class I might have had a very different life. We remember the times we fail, we need those failures to become the adults we are. It seems that we are now teaching our children that failure should be avoided in order to save our children the pain. Yes failure hurts, but the success that eventually comes is that much sweeter for having the fought our way back. So yes I want my children to fail, I will comfort them from the pain and cheer them on when they find a way to succeed. It's a part of growing-up.

My family rarely eats out, less than once a month. However, we all love various ethnic foods so I try to re-create as many dishes at home as I can. Last week I tried a new Winter Vegetable Dal recipe from the January/February 2014 issue of Eating Well magazine.

Winter Vegetable Dal
Winter Vegetable Dal

 

This recipe has 18 ingredients. It takes 1 hour of total time, 35 minutes of which is active and makes 6 servings. I did make a number of changes to the original recipe. First, I used a bay leaf instead of curry leaves. Curry leaves are very hard to find in my area and I didn't want to have to go searching for them. I thought that I had cumin seeds in my cupboard, but wasn't able to find them when I made the recipe so I substituted ground cumin instead. I cut my potatoes small, but I still found that my dal took longer than the recipe suggest for the vegetables to fully cook, approximately 10 additional minutes.

Winter Vegetable Dal
Winter Vegetable Dal

My husband and I enjoyed this recipe. It was mild enough that my kids loved it while still being flavorful enough for adults. If you like your dishes spicier you can add a small amount of crushed red pepper. The leftovers of this dish re-heated well and it tasted great over brown rice.

For the recipe go to Winter Vegetable Dal.

February 8, 2014

Black Bean Brownies

Black Bean Brownies
Black Bean Brownies 


My youngest signed up for kindergarten on Friday. He was excited for weeks leading up to the day, went into the school and then panicked. My normally talkative and outgoing child turned mute. He did write his letters and play with blocks while I filled out the paper work, but refused to actually talk. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but since I home school him for pre-k I am always very self conscious. It doesn't help that when you walk in the door they ask you if they are in pre-k and I was the only mommy that said he was learning at home. Now I have a master's degree, in our state I am allowed to home school through high-school. However, everyone else sends their kid to pre-k. It hasn't held my kids back in school. My oldest went into kindergarten and was already a grade ahead in reading and is now two years ahead in math. I believe strongly in teaching at home and having school being a reinforcement of things already taught through workbooks and everyday life lessons. However, I still feel judged since everyone else makes different decisions. I have had to defend my decisions so many times to other women that have made different choices and feel the need to explain to me why their decisions were better. Luckily since he starts kindergarten next year I won't have to explain my home-school pre-k choices any longer which will be a nice change. 

I have been experimenting with dessert recipes using beans in the last couple of weeks. Last week I tried a new recipe for Black Bean Brownies from the Taste of Home website. 
Black Bean Brownies
Black Bean Brownies 

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes 35 minutes of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 12 servings. I followed the original recipe with only a few changes. I did not have chocolate chips in the house and I didn't want to run to the store so I made the recipe without the chocolate chips. It made the brownies less sweet, but my kids ate them happily with the reduced sugar. I found that my total cooking time was a little longer than the recipe, my total baking time was approximately 30 minutes. 
Black Bean Brownies
Black Bean Brownies 

Without the chocolate chips added these black bean brownies are rich, but not overly sweet. My two boys prefer chocolate that isn't overly sweet, so they loved them. I have tried the recipe with the chocolate chips added and it's also good, just sweeter. Either way works depending on what you have in your cupboard. I love that the brownies have black beans instead of butter, it really cuts down on the fat. The total recipe only has 3 tablespoons of canola oil, which could also be substituted for virgin coconut oil or even applesauce depending on your dietary needs. 

For the recipe go to Black Bean Brownies. 

February 6, 2014

Eggland’s Best (EB) “Recipes from Your Heart” and a Giveaway

Disclaimer: The Eggland’s Best coupon, information, and two gift packs have been provided by Eggland’s Best.
Eggland's Best Eggs
Eggland's Best Eggs

As most of you know I have two very active and growing boys. They eat all the time, and I do mean all the time. Since I don't want to break the bank every time I go to the grocery store I like to buy foods that don't cost a lot and fill up my boys. One of my favorite low cost foods is eggs. My kids love eggs and I love that they are inexpensive.


There are certain foods that I am brand loyal with and eggs are one of them. I have been buying Eggland's Best eggs for years and my family loves them. Here are some important facts about Eggland's Best eggs and why they are a smart choice:

Compared to ordinary eggs, Eggland’s Best eggs contain:

o 10 times more Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps to protect body cells and tissues whether in the heart, skin, lungs, joints or elsewhere in the body. Antioxidants are nutrients in our foods which can prevent, or slow down, the oxidative damage to our bodies. Each EB egg contains 10 times more Vitamin E than ordinary eggs, which is equal to 25% of the recommended daily intake for Vitamin E.

o 4 times more Vitamin D

 Vitamin D aids in the body's absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones. It is important for maintaining muscle strength, healthy body fat levels, and body tissue health. Each EB egg contains 4 times more Vitamin D than ordinary eggs, which is equal to 30% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin D.* (*based on third-party testing of ordinary eggs)

o More than double the Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids are classified as essential fatty acids because they are important for maintaining good health. Omega-3's are believed to be beneficial for heart health, brain and eye function, infant development, and alleviating hypertension. Our bodies do not produce omega-3's naturally, therefore, they must be obtained from food sources.

o 25% less saturated fat

Reducing the amount of saturated fat is recommended for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and cardiovascular functions.

o 3 times more Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is important for healthy protein metabolism, as well as cognitive, cardiovascular, and nervous system health. Vitamin B12 is needed for the process of converting carbohydrates, fats, and proteins from food into energy. It also helps form healthy red blood cells.

o 38% more lutein

Lutein is an important antioxidant that helps maintain healthy vision and overall eye health. Lutein may slow the effects of age-related macular degeneration, and it is an important nutrient for those who may be at risk for cataracts.

French Toast with Eggland's Best Eggs 


I was send two coupons for Eggland's Best eggs to try in my home kitchen and come up with a few recipes. I made three dishes, French Toast, Oven Hard Boiled Eggs and Oven Baked Eggs. Here is the recipe for the two oven baked egg varieties: 


Hard Boiled Oven Eggs
Hard Boiled Oven Eggs

Hard Boiled Oven Eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. Wash and pat dry 12  Eggland's Best Eggs. 
3. Place the eggs in a 12 cup muffin pan (each egg goes in a separate muffin cup in the pan). 
4. Bake eggs in muffin tin for 25-30 minutes. 
5. Run under cold water and peel. 


Oven Baked Eggs


Oven Baked Eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan. 
3. Crack eggs separately into each muffin cup in the muffin pan. 
4. Sprinkle eggs with sea salt. 
5. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes. 
6. Let cool for 2-3 minutes and then release from pan. 

Oven Baked Eggs


I love making eggs in the oven, you can add additional ingredients such as fresh herbs, goat cheese you name it. Just place the ingredients in the bottom of the greased muffin pan before adding the egg. They are great for kids since they can pick them up to eat them and they can be made and stuck in the fridge making the morning rush that much easier during the work week. 

For more information go to the following sites:
Eggland’s Best Website: http://bit.ly/zSp1Fu
Eggland’s Best Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/WUT330
Eggland’s Best Twitter page: http://bit.ly/Ze6Ksi
Eggland’s Best Pinterest page: http://bit.ly/JGUBsj

Right now you can try Eggland's Best eggs for yourself. If you enter my giveaway and win you will receive: 

o 2 free dozen EB coupons
o $25 visa gift card
o 1 EB plush egg

US only, no P.O. Boxes. Enter to win through the Rafflecopter below. Good luck everyone! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

February 4, 2014

Simple Whole Wheat Bread

Simple Whole Wheat Bread
Simple Whole Wheat Bread



I am attempting to teach my kids to pick-up after themselves. Yesterday I had the unfortunate luck of stepping on a Lego my kids had left out. This led to me jumping up and down on one foot and waking up my oldest. Those little Legos are pretty much evil. They get right into the middle of your foot and stick there so you keep stepping on them while screaming that you stepped on it in the first place. What I really don't understand is how my kids have an entire bedroom, but all of their stuff ends up in the living room. Even if they dump the toys out on their bedroom floor they somehow migrate into my space and then I step on something. I wish it was just my boys, except my husband seems to have the same problem with his shoes. I find 2-3 pairs of shoes everyday that my husband has something left in the living room, oftentimes with his socks stuck inside. So this week my boys are learning about personal responsibility. I refuse to keep stepping on toys everywhere I step.
Simple Whole Wheat Rolls
Simple Whole Wheat Rolls

Since I am the only one in my family that eats gluten free my kids go through periods where they really want bread, and pancakes and muffins. Pretty much anything with wheat flour. So today I let them have a day of gluten. I made pancakes and bread. My oldest came home from school very happy and told me it was the best day ever. Normally I follow the same bread recipe, but today I decided to try something new. I tried a recipe for Simple Whole Wheat Bread from Allrecipes.com.
Simple Whole Wheat Rolls
Simple Whole Wheat Rolls

This recipe has 8 ingredients. It takes 3 hours of total time, 20 minutes of which is active and makes 36 servings. I made a number of changes to the original recipe. First instead of making the recipe for 3 loaves, I reduced the amount to 24 servings and made half the dough as rolls and the other half as a loaf of bread. I found that my bread and rolls took longer to brown than the recipe stated, I left them in for an additional 10 minutes, so 40 minutes total. I like the tops of my bread to be nicely browned, especially for whole wheat. My rising time was an hour for the first rise and two hours for the second. Since it's winter my second rise always takes longer than in the summer when the house is much warmer. Just make sure that the dough rises about an inch over the top of the pan and it's ready to go in the oven.
Simple Whole Wheat Bread
Simple Whole Wheat Bread

My kids ate almost the whole batch of rolls within a couple of hours. They really loved the rolls. My husband ate the bread and thought that it was nice bread to have with a slather of butter. The bread is a little sweet since it has honey, which is perfect for rolls. I might make these rolls again for Easter, they are a nice way to use whole wheat flour in rolls while still being kid friendly. Definitely a recipe I will use again.

For the recipe go to Simple Whole Wheat Bread.

February 1, 2014

Smokey Weeknight Chili with Homemade Chili Powder

Smokey Weeknight Chili
Smokey Weeknight Chili



My husband thinks that I rearrange our furniture every 3-4 months to amuse myself. While I do enjoy moving things around in the house, the main reason I tend to rearrange rooms is to make space for the new things we accumulate. With four people in the house we end up with a lot of new things over the course of the year. Most things I buy second hand, clearanced or up-cycled. Every three or four months I go through the house and donate any items that we no longer use or I can't find in a way to re-purpose. Yesterday I spent the day moving a bookcase out of my kid's room and re-arranging the remaining furniture in their bedroom. Now they have a large play area and I have a bookcase that I will paint and make look like new for the living room. I already found oopsie paint at the home improvement store for 2 dollars. I love oopsie paint, it's a great way to buy high quality paint for very little money. The paint I found was originally 40 dollars, so 2 dollars was a great deal! The best part of rearranging furniture is watching my husband try to figure out where everything has been moved to. It always makes me smile.

I have been making a lot of soups and chili the last month due to the cold weather. It has been a very cold winter and when the weather is far below freezing I prefer food that is warm and comforting. Last week I tried a new recipe for Smokey Weeknight Chili from the February 2014 issue of Better Homes and Gardens.
Smokey Weeknight Chili
Smokey Weeknight Chili

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes 45 minutes of total time, 10 minutes of which is active. I followed the original recipe pretty closely. The only change I made was to make my own chili powder. I prefer homemade chili powder to store bought, it tastes better and I can adjust the amount of heat for my family's tastes. Here is the recipe I used:

4 tablespoons Ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
4 teaspoons paprika (I use smoked)
1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoons black pepper

It took minutes to make and was really great tasting. I also made my beans from scratch. I made my beans in the crock pot in a big batch and then measured out the equivalent amount of beans (about a cup and a half for a 15 ounce can). 

This is a very easy recipe to put together. You can substitute black or kidney beans if you don't have chickpeas (or just prefer the taste). It's also an inexpensive meal since it's vegetarian and is even cheaper if you make the beans from scratch. It has 15 grams of protein per serving and only 6 grams of fat so it's a nice all around meal. My family liked the chili with a bit of sour cream since my homemade chili powder is a little on the spicier side. 

For the recipe go to Smokey Weeknight Chili. 
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