Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls {Vegetarian}

Today's post over at Oneamonthmom.com was a HUGE hit at our house...and it's for the diet menu? Shocking, right? Who would think I'd like a diet menu item. But this recipe is delicious and super flavorful: Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls adapted from Annie’s Eats Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls. Oh, and Happy Leap Day everyone! (And happy first...or fourth, depending on the perspective, anniversary to me! And the husband.)

The Results
We slammed this together quickly for lunch before the husband was heading in to work one morning and, in spite of making my own egg roll wrappers, came together super quickly. With store-bought wrappers, it would be incredibly simple. And we loved the flavor. The kids both ate one mini egg roll each and my husband and I scarfed down the rest of our batch of 12 mini egg rolls. I have more wrappers and filling in the fridge for another lunch and can't wait to have it again. Delicious. We dipped ours in Homemade Salsa.

This post is shared with Real Food Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesdays, What's Cooking Wednesday, What's on Your Plate?, Let's Do Brunch, Works for me Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked and Bake with Bizzy.

Monday, February 27, 2012

This Week's Cravings {Smoothies}: Raspberry Kiwi Smoothies

Today's This Week's Cravings theme is SMOOTHIES and I'm sharing my Raspberry Kiwi Smoothies, which I plan to add frozen yogurt whey to this time (since I just got all my whey from my homemade yogurt frozen into little pucks like I freeze my applesauce). I'm replacing about 1/3 of the ice cubes with frozen whey. Yum. I'm also using 1/4 cup yogurt and 1/4 cup whole milk in lieu of soy milk this time. I think the kids are going to be really pleased.

Please Grab Our Button


Veggie Converter This Week's Cravings


My This Week's Cravings co-hostesses are: Tina at Moms Crazy Cooking, Angie at Big Bear's Wife and Nicole at The Daily Dish. As hostesses, we will try our hardest to visit as many of the links we can. We all enjoy your links and look forward to gathering recipes each week.

The party has a few SIMPLE RULES and all of the themes for the entire year are list here on the THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS tab at Moms Crazy Cooking. Plan ahead, check out the weeks you want to make sure to link up or just browse them to see what's going on.

This Week's Cravings Upcoming Linky "THEMES"
Here is a complete list of the past and what's coming up next on THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS!
    • March 5: 5-Ingredient Meal
    • March 12: St. Patrick's Day - GO GREEN
    • March 19: CHOCOLATE - CHOCOLATE & MORE CHOCOLATE
    • March 26: Freezer Meals (fix them and freeze for later)
      If you are a regular link-up we're excited to see what you made this week. If you are new please read and follow the simple rules, so that everyone can enjoy the linky party! If you forget to follow the theme, your post will be deleted. Please don't feel hurt, just come back and link up a recipe that follows the theme. Thanks a million, we look forward to blogging with you!

      The LINKY PARTY is open ALL Week!

      PLEASE do not link more then 3 recipes per week.

      This week's theme is: SMOOTHIES

      Please only link recipes with our theme!

      This week's theme is: SMOOTHIES

      Please only link recipes with our theme!

      Friday, February 24, 2012

      Pumpkin Baking Portions {Vegan}

      I love pumpkin flavored foods. So, in the Fall, I horde multiple cans of pumpkin just in case there's another pumpkin shortage...ever. And since reading Angela's awesome post on How to Substitute Eggs, I've been using pumpkin in 1/4 cup portions in tons of recipes that call for eggs. But, sometimes I get stingy with my pumpkin. Or I decide it's not worth cracking open one of my big cans of pumpkin just for a 1/4 cup of it. Or I debate about what other delicious pumpkin thing I can make immediately with the remainder of the can. Alas, I'm not always able to make multiple delicious pumpkin foods at once.

      It finally dawned on me that, instead of just throwing the pumpkin in a freezer bag and sticking it in the fridge until I make something (or...travesty of travesties, it goes bad!), I could freeze it in 1/4 cup portions just like I freeze our applesauce and yogurt. Duhr. And then, a week or so later, I finally got around to doing just that. So, I thought I'd share.

      Pumpkin Baking Portions
      Ingredients for eight 1/4 cup servings
      • 29 ounce can of pumpkin puree
      Directions
      Portion out 1/4 cup per muffin well in each of 8 silicone muffin wells. Freeze. Remove frozen pumpkin "pucks" from silicone muffin tin and place in a freezer bag and refreeze.

      Thaw portions when needed for baking or cooking, one 1/4 cup portion per egg replacement. Or thaw multiples and make delicious Pumpkin Biscuits or Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins. Drool. 

      The Results
      The pumpkin froze wonderfully and I'm loving the ability to make a pumpkin-something without the pressure to make it right away. Awesome. And, bonus, the kids think the pucks are cool.

      This post shared at Gallery of Favorites, Fresh Bites Friday, Friday Favorites, Potluck FridayFrugal Fridays and I'm Lovin' It.

      Wednesday, February 22, 2012

      Meyer Lemon Cake

      Happy Birthday to Bug! She turned 3 Saturday, but we're celebrating tonight since the poor little Bear wasn't feeling well on her birthday. When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday cake, she requested a lemon cake with Hello Kitty. I saw a pack of Meyer Lemons in the store (which, I've never had, but have heard they're a bit like a cross between a mandarin orange and a lemon) and remembered France's post on Preserving Meyer Lemons. I decided it was some sort of happy food karma in the works that I could make Bug's birthday cake and try this preservation technique from one box of Meyer Lemons. So, I sought out a Meyer Lemon Cake recipe and found this Meyer Lemon Cake recipe on Pinterest from uTry.it.

      I kept the recipe primarily the same as the original, opting for organic ingredients where possible, doubling the vanilla and swapping half and half for heavy cream since it's what I keep in the refrigerator.

      Meyer Lemon Cake
      Adapted slightly from Meyer Lemon Cake.
      Ingredients for 1 8-inch loaf cake
      For the Cake:
      • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
      • 1 cup (organic) sugar
      • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
      • Zest of 3 Meyer lemons
      • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (I used a substitute of 1 1/2 cups minus 1 1/2 tablespoons flour and 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch)
      • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
      • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
      • 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
      • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons half and half, at room temperature
      •  2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
      For the Meyer Lemon Syrup:
      • 1/4 cup (organic) sugar
      • 1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
      For the Meyer Lemon Glaze:
      • 1 cup powdered sugar
      • 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
      Directions
      Preheat oven to 350. Beat butter and sugar in mixer until creamed. Add eggs one at a time and beat on medium speed. Add lemon zest.

      In another medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt). In another small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons lemon juice, half and half and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and wet ingredients to mixer, alternately, starting and ending with the dry.

      Pour into an 8-inch loaf pan and smooth the batter on top.

      Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

      Meanwhile, mix lemon syrup ingredients in a sauce pan and heat over low until sugar is dissolved. In a bowl, whisk together lemon glaze ingredients until smooth.

      When cake is done, cool on rack in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set on a rack with your serving dish underneath the rack. Poke holes in the cake with a toothpick. Spoon lemon syrup over top of cake and allow to seep into the holes.

      Allow cake to cool completely. Drizzle glaze over cake, allowing it to drip over the sides. Plate and serve.

      Have leftover Meyer Lemons? Preserve them for up to 6 months, it's incredibly easy!

      The Results
      It looks beautiful and we'll find out tonight whether it's a hit with the birthday girl. As is the chef's right, I taste-tested the syrup, glaze and batter. All were delicious, so I'm pretty excited about the cake. My cake did fall a bit in the center, but luckily Hello Kitty could "go swimming" in the glaze in that spot and make it look completely intentional. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself. :)

      This post is shared with Real Food Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesdays, What's Cooking Wednesday, What's on Your Plate?, Let's Do Brunch, Works for me Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked and Bake with Bizzy.

      Monday, February 20, 2012

      Loaded Guacamole {Vegan}: This Week's Cravings {Avocados and Salsa}

      Today's This Week's Cravings theme is Mexican Appetizers, Avocado Recipes and Homemade Salsas. I tried out a new Guacamole recipe for the Big Game a few weeks back and I'm sharing that recipe today. It was a hit with everyone and not overwhelmingly spicy, but spicy enough to be delicious. We've repeated the recipe twice since then and are still madly in love with it. I hope you enjoy it also.

      Guacamole
      Ingredients for 4 servings
      Adapted from Spicy Seasoned Loaded Guacamole
      • 2 avocados, fairly soft, peeled and pit removed
      • 1 tablespoon lime juice
      • 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
      • 1 teaspoon House seasoning
      • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
      • 1/2 red onion, minced
      • 1 Serrano pepper, minced
      • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
      • 1 roma tomato, pulp removed, then diced
      Directions
      Pour lime juice and vinegar in a medium bowl. Mash avocados roughly (I leave them pretty chunky) into the vinegar and juice. Stir in spices. Mix in red onion, Serrano, cilantro and tomato. Serve with tortilla chips or homemade tortillas.

      The Results
      We love, love, love this guacamole. It's nice and chunky, allowing the avocado to shine and not so spicy that you can't taste the wonderful flavor of the avocado and accoutrements. Delicious.

      Please Grab Our Button


      Veggie Converter This Week's Cravings


      My This Week's Cravings co-hostesses are: Tina at Moms Crazy Cooking, Angie at Big Bear's Wife and Nicole at The Daily Dish. As hostesses, we will try our hardest to visit as many of the links we can. We all enjoy your links and look forward to gathering recipes each week.
      The party has a few SIMPLE RULES and all of the themes for the entire year are list here on the THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS tab at Moms Crazy Cooking. Plan ahead, check out the weeks you want to make sure to link up or just browse them to see what's going on.

      This Week's Cravings Upcoming Linky "THEMES"
      Here is a complete list of the past and what's coming up next on THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS!
        • February 27: Smoothies & Shakes
        • March 5: 5-Ingredient Meal
        • March 12: St. Patrick's Day - GO GREEN
        • March 19: CHOCOLATE - CHOCOLATE & MORE CHOCOLATE

          If you are a regular link-up we're excited to see what you made this week. If you are new please read and follow the simple rules, so that everyone can enjoy the linky party! If you forget to follow the theme, your post will be deleted. Please don't feel hurt, just come back and link up a recipe that follows the theme. Thanks a million, we look forward to blogging with you!

          The LINKY PARTY is open ALL Week!

          PLEASE do not link more then 3 recipes per week.

          This week's theme is: AVOCADO & SALSA

          Please only link recipes with our theme!

          This week's theme is: AVOCADO & SALSA

          Please only link recipes with our theme!

          Sunday, February 19, 2012

          Menu Plan Monday February 20

          We're still working through some of our freezer meals, but we've also increased the size of our CSA box to include more fresh fruits and vegetables as part of our Get Real process. I sort of inadvertently went vegan this week, but that's always a refreshing change.


          Monday

          Wednesday
          Leftovers

          Saturday
          This post is linked at·Menu Plan Monday.

          Friday, February 17, 2012

          Healthy Breakfast Cookies

          I shared a brilliant breakfast over at Onceamonthmom.com this week and had to share it here, too: Healthy Breakfast Cookies. Lest you think I've developed a super duper mega ego, I say brilliant because I adapted the idea from another blogger. Myscha posted What’s Cooking? Breakfast Cookies over at Wisebread.com and the idea is simply brilliant. Healthy breakfast cookies. Now these are meant for those on a diet, but I used whole milk (you can use almond or coconut milk for a vegan option) and extra applesauce to make them kid-friendly.

          And, BONUS, I used up one of my lurking freezer items. I had 3 bananas frozen in a bag. I'll definitely be trying this recipe again and I may try it with a fruit other than bananas (maybe pumpkin puree or more applesauce) because we have a neighbor with banana allergies. It's nice to share...if they don't get gobbled up before that's possible. We ate these cookies in two days. And we didn't have to feel guilty at all. Excellent.

          The Results
          The kids went absolutely insane for these cookies. I mean, who wouldn't go crazy for cookies for breakfast. But they really, really loved them. I used a mix of cranberries and blueberries in mine this time. That was mainly because my husband and I don't care for cooked raisins. The kids sometimes picked out the blueberries (which is weird, because they love blueberries) so I think next time I'll either go for just cranberries or suck it up and do raisins.

          This post shared at Gallery of Favorites, Fresh Bites Friday, Friday Favorites, Potluck FridayFrugal Fridays and I'm Lovin' It.

          Wednesday, February 15, 2012

          Homemade Yogurt {Vegetarian, Slow Cooker}


          Our kids love yogurt, but they tend to get on kicks where they want it everyday and then not at all for weeks. So, buying the big 32 ounce whole milk organic yogurt that I like to buy just doesn't make sense for us anymore. When they were babies, that size was great for their constant consumption of homemade smoothies. But now, sometimes we buy yogurt for a kid craving and eat it once only to let the rest go to waste. Or, there's perhaps a Mommy craving for delicious Lemon Poppyseed Muffins, which take 1 cup of yogurt and leave the other 3 cups to waste away in the bucket. As a result, I've gotten a little frustrated with my big buckets of delicious yogurt and needed to do something about it. That's when I remembered Tricia's post on Homemade Freezable Yogurt as well as Stephanie O'Dea's post on CrockPot Yogurt

          So I can make my own yogurt and freeze it into portion sizes I can manage? EXCELLENT! But wait...how do you make yogurt? Well, you really don't...you use yogurt to create more yogurt. Kind of like how you use sourdough starter to create more sourdough. For your first batch of yogurt you'll need 1/2 cup of store-bought (or if someone you know makes yogurt, borrow 1/2 cup of theirs). I used the remains of my big bucket o' whole milk organic yogurt. After your first batch is complete, you can use 1/2 cup of that batch to create the next and never have to buy yogurt again. Fabulous...and kind of a cool little kitchen science experiment for the kids to participate in.

          I combined the suggestions from Tricia's and Stephanie's posts and went sugarless (like Stephanie) and strained my yogurt (like Tricia). Then I personalized it and froze my yogurt in 1/4 cup portions, much like how I freeze applesauce. The individual yogurt "pucks" are about the right serving size for my kids and it's easy to thaw multiples for recipes.

          Homemade Yogurt
          Adapted from Homemade Freezable Yogurt and CrockPot Yogurt.
          Ingredients for 20 (1/4 cup) servings
          • 8 cups (1/2 gallon) whole milk
          • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) whole milk yogurt
          • 2 tablespoons vanilla (optional)
          Directions
          Pour milk into a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, cover and cook on LOW for 2 1/2 hours.

          Unplug your slow cooker, keep covered and let sit for 3 hours.

          After 3 hours have passed, whisk in yogurt starter and vanilla, if desired. Cover crock and wrap a towel around your entire slow cooker. Let sit (still off and unplugged) for 8 hours or overnight.

          In the morning, you'll have yogurt. At this point, you can eat it if you like your yogurt thin. If not, set up a strainer lined with coffee filters. Place a bowl underneath to catch the whey and strain the excess liquid out of the yogurt. Ladle the yogurt in and place the contraption in the refrigerator for several hours.

          Scrape the yogurt off of the coffee filters and into a bowl. Package whey separately.

          Whisk yogurt to make it a more uniform consistency. Scoop 1/4 cup portions into a silicone muffin tin and freeze. Once frozen, remove yogurt pucks from tin, divide among freezer bags and refreeze.

          The Results
          The kids absolutely love the flavor of this yogurt (yes, without any sugar added at all) and it is incredibly convenient to pull out those 1/4 cup portions. The yogurt does look a little weird when you thaw it. I've found I have to whisk it after it thaws because it thaws separated. But once you stir it up, it's fine. I've made Lemon Poppyseed Muffins twice since I made this yogurt. Delicious.

          This post is shared with Real Food Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesdays, What's Cooking Wednesday, What's on Your Plate?, Let's Do Brunch, Works for me Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked and Bake with Bizzy.

          Monday, February 13, 2012

          Whole Wheat Pepperoni Pizza Muffins {Vegetarian}: Secret Recipe Club

          The Secret Recipe Club reveal is today and I'm so excited to finally share these delicious Whole Wheat Pepperoni Pizza Muffins from Erin's lovely blog, Wholesome RD. Erin is a registered dietician in Chicago and blogs about balanced eating with wholesome recipes (which don't always conform to what we usually think of as "health food"). I enjoyed learning about Erin and really appreciated her outlook on healthy, balanced eating. I did a bit of trolling around on Erin's blog before ultimately deciding on these muffins, but I have to admit I was pretty set on making them once I saw them and couldn't be dissuaded easily. When we received our assignments, it was pretty early in our family's Get Real journey, so it was a great chance to try out whole wheat flour and homemade pepperoni on the kids.


          Whole Wheat Pepperoni Pizza Muffins
          Adapted from Whole Wheat Pepperoni Pizza Puffs.
          Ingredients
          • 1 cup whole wheat flour
          • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
          • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
          • 1 teaspoon pizza seasoning
          • 1 cup milk
          • 1 egg, lightly beaten
          • 4 ounces Meunster cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
          • 3 ounces Seitan Pepperoni, sliced and quartered (about 2/3 cup)
          • 3/4 cup bolognese or marinara sauce, divided
          Directions
          Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and oregano; whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella, "pepperoni" and 1/4 cup of marinara sauce. Let stand for 10 minutes. Stir the batter and divide among the muffin cups.

          Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes and serve with remaining marinara sauce.

          The Results
          The kids LOVED these. They always love the idea of muffins for dinner and pizza muffins...awesome! This was one of my first experiments with whole wheat flour in a kid-friendly recipe (I made these right after we received our SRC assignments) and it was an encouraging early success in our Get Real journey. I thought the muffins were pretty darn tasty, too. The meat-eating husband predictably declined to try it because he's not a fan of the faux pepperoni.

          This post is shared at·Mouthwatering Mondays, My Meatless Mondays, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Cravings, Just Another Meatless MondayHomemaker MondayMeatless MondaysMingle Monday, Mangia Monday, Made By You Mondays and Monday Mania.

          This Week's Cravings {VALENTINE'S DAY}: Pumpkin Biscuits

          Today's This Week's Cravings theme is Valentine's Day Treats or Romantic Dinners. Our family tradition for special days is breakfast in bed for whomever is being treated. So, for my special day, I usually get pancakes or waffles in bed from the husband. This holiday, I decided I'd attempt to make a breakfast ahead of time that I would love and neither of us would have to fuss over during our morning routine. These Pumpkin Biscuits, which I made ahead of time and froze, were the perfect choice. The pumpkin flavor was subtle enough that the pumpkin-wary husband still liked them and the pumpkin-loving ladies of the house were completely in love with them. If your kids are vegetable-phobic, these biscuits would also be a great way to sneak in some vegetable vitamins...especially for bread-lovers.

          These biscuits were my first roll out and cut biscuits...ever. I've been intimidated by that variety of biscuits. I mean, drop biscuits are SO EASY, so why bother, right? I hate rolling dough out for some reason so this was one of my hold-ups in my Get Real journey. I think I conquered my stumbling block pretty well as these biscuits came out fantastically and were surprisingly easy to make. Of particular note, I LOVE the process of shredding the frozen butter in my food processor and then tossing it in the dry ingredients. It's so much easier than the whole pastry cutter or two knives debacle that I always seem to screw up (or ask my husband to finish for me).

          Check out my Pumpkin Biscuits over at Onceamonthmom.com today for a real (and I think romantic) Valentine's Day treat.

          The Results
          We all loved these, and as I said, they were so much easier than I'd anticipated. They're great warm out of the oven, but I actually ended up surprisingly enjoying them even more cold. The taste and texture is incredible and the subtle pumpkin pie spice flavor gives the biscuits an unique kick.

          Please Grab Our Button


          Veggie Converter This Week's Cravings


          My This Week's Cravings co-hostesses are: Tina at Moms Crazy Cooking, Angie at Big Bear's Wife and Nicole at The Daily Dish. As hostesses, we will try our hardest to visit as many of the links we can. We all enjoy your links and look forward to gathering recipes each week.
          The party has a few SIMPLE RULES and all of the themes for the entire year are list here on the THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS tab at Moms Crazy Cooking. Plan ahead, check out the weeks you want to make sure to link up or just browse them to see what's going on.

          This Week's Cravings Upcoming Linky "THEMES"
          Here is a complete list of the past and what's coming up next on THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS!
            • February 20: Avocado Recipes & Homemade Salsa
            • February 27: Smoothies & Shakes
            • March 5: 5-Ingredient Meal
            • March 12: St. Patrick's Day - GO GREEN
              If you are a regular link-up we're excited to see what you made this week. If you are new please read and follow the simple rules, so that everyone can enjoy the linky party! If you forget to follow the theme, your post will be deleted. Please don't feel hurt, just come back and link up a recipe that follows the theme. Thanks a million, we look forward to blogging with you!

              The LINKY PARTY is open ALL Week!

              PLEASE do not link more then 3 recipes per week.

              This week's theme is: VALENTINE'S DAY TREATS / ROMANTIC DINNERS

              Please only link recipes with our theme!

              This week's theme is: VALENTINE'S DAY TREATS / ROMANTIC DINNERS

              Please only link recipes with our theme!

              Menu Plan Monday February 13

              It's a bit of a crazy week around here with Valentine's Day tomorrow, our nearly 3-year-old turning 3 Saturday and our wedding anniversary coming up, so we're going simple again this week. We also just got a new pizza stone, so I'm dying to make pizza soon.


              Monday

              Tuesday
              Homemade Tortillas Quesadillas (Mozzarella cheese) and Homemade Tomato Soup {Vegan}
              Wednesday
              Zucchini Burgers (going to make these vegan, with pumpkin puree as "egg" and switch in quinoa for the bread cubes)

              Thursday
              Leftovers

              Saturday
              Thai Chickpea Pizza {Vegan} and Lemon Cake for Bug's birthday

              Sunday
              This post is linked at·Menu Plan Monday.

              Friday, February 10, 2012

              Marinara Sauce {Vegan, Slow Cooker}

              Spaghetti sauce is one of the primary staples in our house, so finding a recipe that the kids and adults will all love is crucial for our Get Real journey. While we've made Bolognese and various pasta sauces on a pretty regular basis, we still seemed to always have a jar of marinara sauce around for quick meals. I'm so excited about the possibility of eliminating that sauce from our pantry staples. Marinara is really easy to make and can be made in big batches and divided into meal-sized portions, so it's about time we take the leap.

              For my first marinara sauce attempt, I'm trying Kelly's from Onceamonthmom.com and I made only minor adjustments to the spices. I also added a roughly chopped carrot to the cooking process. Allowing a carrot to soak up the acids from the tomatoes during cooking and then removing it from the sauce before blending creates a sweeter sauce without the need for sweetener.

              Marinara Sauce
              Adapted from Marinara Sauce a la Seaton.
              Ingredients for about 8 cups of sauce
              • 7 cups diced tomatoes and juice (4 14.5 ounce cans)
              • 1 medium onion, diced
              • 5 tablespoons minced garlic
              • 1 tablespoon oregano, dried
              • 1 tablespoon parsley, dried
              • 1 tablespoon basil, dried
              • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
              • 1 teaspoon black pepper
              • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
              • 1 bay leaf
              • 1 medium carrot, roughly chopped

              Directions
              Place all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on LOW for 8 hours. (The original recipe says to cook uncovered, but I forgot this part and cooked it covered; uncovered would obviously be less liquidy, so choose based on your desired consistency.) When cooking is complete, remove carrot and bay leaf. Use an immersion blender to blend sauce completely (or remove and blend in batches).

              Divide among pint freezer bags and freeze in portion sizes, if desired.

              The Results
              Oh my goodness, I am in love with this sauce. The kids found it a little spicy, so we'll cut down to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes next time for them, but 1 teaspoon was the perfect amount for the adults. Even with my goof of leaving the slow cooker covered, the sauce turned out a great somewhat thick consistency and the flavor was fantastic. The meat-eating husband loved it, too.

              This post shared at Gallery of Favorites, Fresh Bites Friday, Friday Favorites, Potluck FridayFrugal Fridays and I'm Lovin' It.

              Wednesday, February 8, 2012

              Pepperoni Pizza {Vegetarian}

              We love pizza, but rushing out to a restaurant or ordering in when we have a pizza craving isn't often feasible. The great thing about pizza at home is everyone can choose the exact toppings they want, and you can make multiple pizzas with various toppings.

              When the kids and I had this pizza, the meat-eating husband had a similar version with salami instead of vegan pepperoni. He claims it was also delicious. I absolutely love having more single ingredients on-hand since starting our Get Real challenge. It really encouraged us to stay home and assuage our pizza cravings at home with this simple recipe. It turned out incredibly and we'll definitely be having it again.

              Pepperoni Pizza
              Ingredients
              • 1 pizza dough* (Betty Crocker recipe with substitutions)
              • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
              • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
              • 1/4 cup marinara or Bolognese sauce
              • 6 slices green pepper
              • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
              • 2 tablespoons black olives, sliced
              • 1/4 cup Vegan Pepperoni slices, quartered
              *I used unbleached flour and substituted sucanat for sugar
              Directions
              Prepare dough as directed. Pre-bake at 425 for 7-8 minutes. Meanwhile, saute onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil. Top crust with bolognese, onion and garlic mixture, green pepper slices, Mozarella, black olives and "pepperoni."

              Bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes, until cheese is melted.

              The Results
              Holy deliciousness. This is definitely one of the best homemade pizzas we've ever made. The kids actually liked both versions, with Goose leaning heavily toward the vegetarian version.

              This post is shared with Real Food Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesdays, What's Cooking Wednesday, What's on Your Plate?, What's on the Menu Wednesday, Let's Do Brunch, Works for me Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked and Bake with Bizzy.

              Monday, February 6, 2012

              Peanut Butterflies {Vegan}: This Week's Cravings {NUTELLA, PEANUT BUTTER, ALMOND BUTTER}


              Today's This Week's Cravings theme is NUTELLA DAY (PEANUT BUTTER, ALMOND BUTTER & MORE) and I'm sharing Peanut Butterflies, which made the kids go crazy with joy. This is a really simple recipe adapted from a really fun cookbook I found at the thrift store for $1, the Disney Royal Recipe Collection. The kids love to look through it and find recipes that they can help make.

              The original for this recipe is called "Circle-wiches" and is a traditional two slice of bread sandwich cut into a circle and filled with peanut butter, bananas and raisins. Not having an appropriately-sized circle cookie cutter and not trusting my ability to cut a circle that didn't look wonky, I dug out our butterfly cookie cutter (you could use any shape you want!). Since my bread was the shorter homemade variety, I cut one wing out of each slice of bread and made open-faced butterfly sandwiches.

              Peanut Butterflies
              Ingredients for 1 sandwich
              Adapted from Circle-wiches
              • 2 slices Wheat Bread
              • 2-3 tablespoons peanut butter
              • 4 slices of banana
              • 2 tablespoons raisins
              Directions
              Slice "wings" or other shapes out of your bread. Arrange "wings" on plate and spread peanut butter over the top. Have the kids sprinkle on raisins and place banana slices on top. Watch them giggle as they eat their Peanut Butterflies.

              The Results
              The kids went absolutely nuts for these. And I actually thought they were pretty tasty, too.

              Please Grab Our Button



              Veggie Converter This Week's Cravings


              My This Week's Cravings co-hostesses are: Tina at Moms Crazy Cooking, Angie at Big Bear's Wife and Nicole at The Daily Dish. As hostesses, we will try our hardest to visit as many of the links we can. We all enjoy your links and look forward to gathering recipes each week.
              The party has a few SIMPLE RULES and all of the themes for the entire year are list here on the THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS tab at Moms Crazy Cooking. Plan ahead, check out the weeks you want to make sure to link up or just browse them to see what's going on.

              This Week's Cravings Upcoming Linky "THEMES"
              Here is a complete list of the past and what's coming up next on THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS!
                • February 13: Valentine's Day Treats or Romantic Dinners for your Loved Ones
                • February 20: Avocado Recipes & Homemade Salsa
                • February 27: Smoothies & Shakes
                • March 5: 5-Ingredient Meal
                If you are a regular link-up we're excited to see what you made this week. If you are new please read and follow the simple rules, so that everyone can enjoy the linky party! If you forget to follow the theme, your post will be deleted. Please don't feel hurt, just come back and link up a recipe that follows the theme. Thanks a million, we look forward to blogging with you!

                The LINKY PARTY is open ALL Week!

                PLEASE do not link more then 3 recipes per week.

                This week's theme is: NUTELLA, PEANUT BUTTER, ALMOND BUTTER

                Please only link recipes with our theme!

                This week's theme is: NUTELLA, PEANUT BUTTER, ALMOND BUTTER

                Please only link recipes with our theme!
                This post is shared at·Mouthwatering Mondays, My Meatless Mondays, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Cravings, Just Another Meatless MondayHomemaker MondayMeatless MondaysMingle Monday, Mangia Monday, Made By You Mondays and Monday Mania.

                Friday, February 3, 2012

                Bleu Cheese Dressing

                As part of my personal Get Real experience, I knew I needed to make homemade salad dressings as I run out of the bottled variety. I've been on a bit of a Poppyseed Dressing kick lately and was already out of bleu cheese dressing (one of my favorites) when I visited France's blog for Whole Food Wednesday last week. If you haven't seen France's incredible blog, Beyond the Peel, you need to go check it out. She has an abundance of amazingly creative (and whole food) recipes made from simple, seasonal ingredients. I love her blog and she's a very sweet person, too. Her post and her simple bleu cheese recipe inspired me to get off my duff and get the dressing made. And I'm glad I did.


                Bleu Cheese Dressing
                Slightly adapted from Bleu Cheese Dressing.
                Ingredients
                • 1 cup crumbled bleu cheese
                • 1 cup yogurt, whole milk organic (or France's original: sour cream)
                • 1/4 cup lemon juice
                • up to 1/2 cup water
                Directions
                Place all ingredients, except water, in a blender or food processor and pulse lightly to mix. Add water to reach desired consistency. Pour into a container (I put it in canning jars in my refrigerator) and drizzle over dressing or use as a dip.

                The Results
                I absolutely love the flavor of this dressing. My husband didn't care much for the yogurt flavor and said he'd prefer the sour cream version (which we plan to try next), but I thought it was perfect with the yogurt. The only change I would make in the future is to not add the entire 1/2 cup of water (yogurt is a bit runnier than sour cream, so this might be the culprit here) and instead add the water through the pour chute of my food processor until it's the level of creaminess I like.

                This post shared at Gallery of Favorites, Fresh Bites Friday, Friday Favorites, Potluck FridayFrugal Fridays ,I'm Lovin' It, Simple Lives Thursday, Frugal Food Thursday, Things I Love Thursday, It's a Keeper, Full Plate Thursday, Tastetastic Thursday and Ultimate Recipe Swap.

                Wednesday, February 1, 2012

                Blueberry Bagels {Vegan}

                For our kids, blueberry bagels are the piece de resistance of breakfast foods. Sure, they liked the Cinnamon Raisin Bagels. Heck, they even liked the "Seed Bagels" as they call them and the Sourdough Bagels. But to them, when they ask for a bagel for breakfast, what they REALLY want is blueberry. It took me a while to find dried blueberries not filled with junk. It was enough to make me consider a food dehydrator. But, thankfully, you can actually find them sweetened with only apple juice. And, after a lovely conversation with a reader about the Cinnamon Raisin Bagels recipe, I decided I wanted to try a less yeasty bagel recipe. So, in spite of the overnight refrigeration (I know this isn't difficult, but making something over two days just always makes it seem that much harder to me), I decided to try this yummy-sounding Blueberry Bagels from Brown Eyed Baker, who is a much more skilled baker than I and has a lot of awesome recipes. 

                Blueberry Bagels
                Slightly adapted from Blueberry Bagels
                Ingredients for 12 bagels
                For the Sponge:
                • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
                • 4 cups minus 4 teaspoons flour, unbleached
                • 4 teaspoons vital wheat gluten 
                • 2 1/2 cups water, room temperature
                For the Dough:
                • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
                • 3 3/4 cups minus 3 3/4 teaspoons flour, unbleached
                • 3 3/4 teaspoons vital wheat gluten 
                • 2 3/4 teaspoons salt
                • 2 teaspoons sucanat or brown sugar
                • 1 1/2 cups dried blueberries, rinsed
                To Finish:
                • 1 tablespoon baking soda
                Directions
                To make the sponge, in your stand-mixer bowl, stir the yeast into the flour and wheat gluten. Add the water and whisk until it forms a pancake-like batter. Cover the bowl and leave at room temperature for 2 hours. It should double in size and fall when the bowl is tapped against the counter.

                In the same bowl, add the yeast to the sponge and stir. Add 3 cups of the flour, the 3 3/4 teaspoons vital wheat gluten, the salt and sucanat. Stir on speed 2 with the dough hook until the dough turns into a ball. Slowly add the remaining flour to stiffen the dough. At this point mine became really stiff...stiff enough to scare me about the continued life of my stand-mixer. So be careful with that last bit of flour.

                Knead 6 minutes by machine (or 10 minutes by hand on a lightly floured surface), adding blueberries in the last 1-2 minutes of kneading.

                Much like the raisins in the other bagels, I still lost a ton of blueberries to the mixing process and later to the boiling process. This time, I rinsed them off and food processed them with cream cheese and a bit of milk to have homemade blueberry cream cheese. I highly recommend doing the same; the spread is delicious and really enhances the blueberriness of the bagels. I read somewhere that dusting the fruit with flour will make it stick to the dough better. I may try that next time also. But the cream cheese is a great temporary solution.

                Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and form into balls. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Spray two large sheet pans with oil or cooking spray. Shape the bagels by poking a hole in the center with your thumb and spinning the dough around your thumb to form about a 2 1/2-inch hole. Set the bagels on the sheet pans at least 2 inches apart.

                Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Now this is kind of fun. At this point you do a "float test" to see if the bagel dough is ready for retardation in the fridge. Drop one bagel in a bowl of water. If it floats within 10 seconds (mine floated immediately), you're good to go and you just pat that one off and set it back on the pan. If not, return it to the pan and check every 10-20 minutes with the float test.

                Once your bagels graduate, cover them (I used cut up grocery bags...because I'm just that cheap frugal). Place them in the refrigerator overnight (or up to 2 days).

                When you're ready to boil and bake your bagels, preheat your oven to 500. Bring a large pot of water to boil with 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Boil as many bagels at a time that fit comfortably in your pot (mine fits 3) for 1 minute per side (2 minutes per side for chewier bagels). Remove with a slotted spatula to a drying rack and repeat with remaining bagels.

                Respray baking sheets and divide bagels among sheets. Bake at 500 for 5 minutes. Switch the pans to the opposite shelves and rotate each pan 180 degrees. After rotation, turn oven down to 450F. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes, depending on desired golden-brownness (I went 8). Cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving

                The Results
                When I bit into my first bagel, I said a bad word (the kids were asleep, don't judge me) and that the bagels were incredible. I was a little bit irked for two reasons. One--it really did scare me how hard the dough was on my mixer...and I have a "pro." Two--I didn't want to love the overnight-refrigerated bagels more than the bagels that I can have the instant gratification of getting done in one day. But, alas, these bagels are fantastic. Incredible, delicious bagels.

                The kids went crazy insane for these bagels. They gobbled them up and begged for more. If you're OK with the long wait and the strain on your stand-mixer doesn't frighten you much (or you want to get a workout and knead it by hand), I highly recommend this recipe. The taste and texture are far and away the best homemade bagels I've made yet. I'll definitely be figuring out a way to baby my mixer through another batch. Oh, and the husband says they taste like Einstein Bros. bagels (which are his favorite)...so that's a definite win for him!

                This post is shared with Real Food Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesdays, What's Cooking Wednesday, What's on Your Plate?, What's on the Menu Wednesday, Let's Do Brunch, Works for me Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked and Bake with Bizzy.