The ideal snack! All my past energy bites were peanut butter based so I tried something new. We definitely eat our fair share of pb around here! I love these pb/coconut/choc chip ones and these pb & “jelly” flavored ones too. Snacks can reset us mid-morning between zooms or virtual kindergarten screen-breaks, or post-nap. I like the powerful, useful, snacks and that these can carry us to the next meal.
Chocolate Mint Energy Bites Ingredients: 1 cup Old Fashioned Oats 5 dates, chopped 1 tablespoon/scoop chocolate protein powder 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed 1/2 cup tahini 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips 1-2 tablespoons Nutella 1/4 teaspoon mint extract
Directions: Mix together the oats, flaxseed, dates, and protein powder.
Add in the tahini, chocolate chips, nutella, and mint. Mix well, breaking up chunks to ensure mint is well incorporated. Form into balls or disks. Enjoy!
I like these shaped as disks just for easier space storage. We all snack on these and they provide that great flavor with some good protein, fiber, and a little chocolate sweet boost.
The nutella was an afterthought – these tasted a bit too much like protein powder so I added that to sweeten it a bit. Mini chips are ideal so these don’t crumble apart. Careful of that mint- wowza. That can easily be wayyy too much.
My 2.5 yr old sous-chef looooved the dates so those will be a snack too for her now too.
I’ve been trying to give home lunches a bit of a face lift. These turkey melts on English muffins are just unique enough be exciting while keeping them a totally do-able weekday lunch. Somedays it is PB&J while doing 5 other things and then there’s a 5 minute special lunch with everyday ingredients like this!
These have a nice kick with a spicy sauce and crunch from an apple (or there are lots of variations below)!
English Muffin Turkey Melts: Ingredients: (for 1) 1 English Muffin 2 tablespoons mayo 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (or hot sauce) 2 slices turkey 1-2 slices cheese 1/4 apple (I used honeycrisp) 1 cup mixed greens
Directions: Toast the English muffin (the toaster oven is perfect for this, or “griddle” it on a pan to use again soon). Mix together the mayo and the sriracha in a small bowl. Slice the apple and chop the greens if needed, while the muffin toasts.
When the English muffin is toasted, spread the sriracha onto both halves, then top one half with greens, apple slices, turkey, and cheese. Pop the assembled English muffin into a toaster oven, the regular oven, or into a hot pan with a cover to melt the cheese and warm everything through.
Pop the top on and enjoy!
These are so fun and could easily swap with what you have. Honey mustard would be great, a pear would taste delicious, ham can swap with turkey. Go crazy! The English muffin definitely adds some variety, and the melty cheese + lunch meat + a fruit + a veg + sauce = is perfect. These can be open faced or popped together as a sandwich.
I’m partial to these Fiber One Multigrain English muffins. They are much more fluffy than others and the higher fiber is just an added benefit.
Our kindergartner is totally enthused by school lunch – he goes to school 2 days a week and lunch is provided. Chocolate milk! Square pizza! He eats anything and gets 2 choices so despite not knowing what they’re serving, I’m always interested to hear what he picks. He had french toast sticks and loved it! I decided to make our own and coated them in a little churro crunch. Anything in a dippable format is fun for all!
Churro French Toast Sticks Ingredients: (serves 5-6) 1/2 loaf Italian Bread 6 eggs 1/2 cup half and half 1/2 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons brown sugar sprinkle of nutmeg 2 tablespoons white sugar
Directions: Slice Italian bread in half horizontally, then into slices vertically for sticks. Whisk together eggs, half & half, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, and nutmeg.
Pour into a shallow baking dish and add in bread in one layer, repeat if necessary. Toss well and let soak for 10 minutes. (I used a 9×9 dish for 2 batches, cooking one batch while the other soaks.)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Heat a large skillet to medium heat and spray with nonstick spray and butter. Pan fry the sticks- cooking for ~2-3 minutes on each side. Prep a baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons brown sugar, white sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. As the french toast sticks are cooked, remove from the heat and put onto the baking sheet – rolling in the cinnamon sugar. Then keep warm while cooking other french toast sticks.
These were good! The sugary crunch and warm spices is delightful – almost doughnut-like! They’re quite sweet and would have paired nicely with bacon, but do as I say, not as I do!
Psssst! Use the leftover other half of Italian bread loaf cut into chunks to be homemade croutons or for garlic bread. Both are good decisions and reminders how pillowy white bread is!
I’m reallllly feeling 2021. The prospect of a new year, fresh slate doesn’t seem inspiring or fitting. I think some melted sidewalks is what I’m looking forward to the most right now. I’m the most home-body of anyone I know and even I want to go places. I had a few fun foods in February, mixed amongst the staples of easy-to-execute/crowd pleasers.
I made a BLT Chicken Salad that has great flexibility for any time of year…including this part of the year with lack-luster tomatoes!
The standout meal of the month for me was Pineapple Coconut Rice bowls. I love a rice bowl and this added some greatly appreciated variety and inspiring a different place.
I’m not sure what’s coming up for March yet. I feel a bit of a slump so maybe some fun foods will revive me – or birthday cake?
The Little Girl: She just always wants to go places- there’s just nowhere for her to go. I love hearing her tell stories from books she knows well as she flips through them. We’re so lucky she’s easy going. I’m amused by her intense instruction when she’s playing pretend- for the play kitchen she’s forever telling me in a deep voice, “no, that’s for lunch and it is hot”. PB & fluff is her fav lunch and she’d eat maple oatmeal daily.
The Big Guy: The start of Feb vacation had him sad not to have school, then sad to go back. The break was good – he got some time home to just play, time with all the grandparents, and he was thrilled to have so much snow. It was also good for us as the time-managers. He loves sledding and is never cold. His current fav food is fig bars – like these and he’s been into helping make dinner. He watched the movie Turbo and loved it. We’re reading Charlotte’s Web.
Goals: Year of the fun mail! We sent a few Valentines around and a little something as encouragement. More breakfasts: nothing new, but I did make a special doughnut run. Lunches coordinated or prepped in advance – Umm. Leftovers became some breakfast burritos which are fun to pull out of the freezer now and then. I’ve been having some veggie burgers too. I’d like to get the house a bit neater: ehh. I didn’t have any particular emphasis on this- but should Bullet journal – I’ve kept a meals list going which I like as reminders of the every-day/not blogged ones. What I’m reading: I read Panther Baby and The Giver of Stars which I loooved and The Henna Artist. What I’m Watching: We caught up on some movies – ‘Knives Out’ which I absolutely loved and ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ was was OK to me.
Approaching 1 year of the pandemic and some gloomy weather has me a bit blah. I desperately miss non-icy sidewalks at the moment. Sometimes a more exciting lunch is something to look forward to, right? I’ve been striving for some more varied lunches and this was a good one.
Just a few slices of bacon with chopped greens, tomatoes, chicken salad, and a bit of bright pickle is so satisfying and perfect in a pita, or on some great bread, or scooped with crackers. This also works nicely for reviving leftovers if you’ve eaten chicken lately!
BLT Chicken Salad Ingredients: (for 2-3 servings) 2 cups chicken (cooked and cooled) 1 teaspoon mayo 1 tablespoon Italian dressing 1 teaspoon pickle juice (optional) 2 strips bacon (cooked and cooled) 2 cups baby arugula 1 small tomato
Directions: Chop and shred the chicken and mix the mayo, Italian dressing, pickle juice (optional) and salt & pepper. Chop the bacon, arugula, and tomato and add in the chicken salad.
Stir gently to combine – add in another splash of dressing or pickle juice if needed. Serve as a sandwich, with more greens as a salad, or scoop with crackers! Enjoy!
This is use 103,894,380 for a Costco roasted chicken. Those things are so much better than anywhere else, and cheaper! I buy them even without a plan and take it off the bone to freeze it. For this chicken salad, it was easy to break off some frozen chunks and defrost in the fridge overnight.
I’m partial to Ken’s Italian Dressing that looks like nothing special but is ohh so good. I think that WITH the pickle juice is delightful and just enough mayo to keep it together.
Are chopped salads still a thing? I liked everything getting equally distributed but now I’m wondering if they were just a fad of the 2010s? Either way, it is the perfect way to ensure each bite has some of everything. The concept lives on at our house!
I’m fully embracing Valentine’s Day this year because, well, we definitely need things to look forward to. I had decor up before Feb 1 hit and planned to make muddy buddies. We made some mint ones at Christmas and it was so fun. This muddy buddy batch has half white, half pink raspberry with some M&Ms in there too!
I like that these require so few ingredients. With so many Chex varieties I totally could have done half as raspberry and half vanilla chex, which would lighten up the sugar too.
Raspberry White Chocolate Muddy Buddy Ingredients: ~1 box Rice Chex cereal (I used one box minus 2 kid bfast servings) 3 cups white chocolate 1 teaspoon raspberry jelly (optional) 1 cup freeze dried raspberries, pulverized into powder 1 cup powdered sugar 1 bag Valentine’s M&Ms or small valentine candies or pink sprinkles
Directions: Melt half the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, stirring every 30 seconds. Mix half the cereal in, stirring carefully to not break the cereal. Pour into a zip-top bag and pour in half the powdered sugar (don’t push the air out before closing the bag, keep it balloon-like). Shake, shake, shake until well covered. Empty onto a sheet of wax paper to cool/dry. Melt the other half of the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, stirring every 30 seconds. Mix the remaining half the cereal in and jelly, stirring carefully to not break the cereal. Pour into the same zip-top bag and pour in remaining half of the powdered sugar and the raspberry powder (don’t push the air out before closing the bag-keep it balloon-like). Shake, shake, shake until well covered. Empty onto a sheet of wax paper to cool/dry. Let it cool/dry for 15 minutes and then pour both batches into a large air-tight container with the M&Ms or sprinkles. Enjoy!
Using the bag was much easier than stirring in a bowl. I’ve now mastered how not to dirty 2 of everything! We had freeze dried raspberries that nobody liked for snacks so I ground them up for PB&J inspired energy bites and the rest for these! The kids like freeze dried mango, strawberries, apples, etc so I’m not sure why they weren’t a hit, but ohh well! They bring great flavor and color.
A lighter option to lessen the sugar would be to half the white chocolate, half the powdered sugar and to make the raspberry batch and mix in a few cups of vanilla chex or honey nut chex.
This is like a vacation! Coconut rice and pineapple are delightful on their own, then adding pork and a honey teriyaki drizzle makes magic. We loved this. The first time I made it with chicken but the pork was even better.
Pineapple Coconut Rice Bowls: Ingredients: (serves 4-5) 1 1/2 cups white rice 1 cup coconut milk 1 1/4 cup water or broth 1 cup pineapple, chopped 1 1/2 cup shredded pork 2 green onions 2 tablespoons honey 2 teaspoons teriyaki sauce 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
Directions: Cook the rice using the coconut milk and water/broth for the liquid (I used a pressure cooker- about 4 min for white rice!). Warm the pork in a skillet over high heat to crisp up bits and add a tablespoon or so of the honey/teriyaki/bbq sauce for the last few minutes. Add the pineapple to the rice when it has cooked completely and mix.
Assemble the bowls with rice on the bottom, the pork, and chopped green onion on top.
Drizzle bowls with the remaining sauce. Enjoy!
These were so good and a great use for pork. I love rice in the pressure cooker and it is so fast. The coconut and pineapple flavors are bright and easy to have anytime.
The pork shoulder in the crockpot for 8 hours became this, some went on pizza, and lots froze to be separate meals other times. We’ll use some for BBQ pulled pork sandwiches and some smaller portions will go in quesadillas or nachos or something.
January was a roller-coaster for sure. The highs were T’s 6th birthday and the inauguration which made me hopeful. The attacks on the capitol was such a disappointing low moment for the US.
I don’t feel post-holiday lows I hear some folks have, though I think winter/snowman books and decor helps the fresh-start feelings still being festive. I wish we had more snow. Now I keep us looking towards the snack holiday (aka, the Superbowl) and making Valentines.
In the kitchen, I am so enthusiastic for the cutest Football Cheeseball ever. Make in any amount while you don’t have a crowd this year!
Breakfast is one of my favorites and I’m missing going out for breakfast. I put together some McGriddles that were so good.
Winter doesn’t have me craving smoothies when it is cold, but this Chocolate Almond one was a great way to have some variety.
The Little Girl: She reached a milestone of reaching the growth chart! She’s into the first percentile with our emphasis of nutrient-dence foods and focus to eat as much as possible. Coloring is her favorite activity 24/7 and she is playing a lot more of what big brother wants the “game”/play to be.
The Big Guy: He’s 6! His birthday was fun and he had a countdown until the day. He is lucky to have gracious gifts of legos, puzzles, outside toys, and craft supplies. He chose pasta for dinner and Grandma made a lego cake! He is writing a ton and the note cards he delivers to us are so adorable.
Goals: Year of the fun mail! I didn’t send anything fun in January, but have ideas for February! More breakfasts: yes! McGriddles! Lunches coordinated or prepped in advance – Somehow there were more leftovers around lately for lunches. Taco/burrito/quesadilla/salad make ideal leftovers. I’d like to get the house a bit neater. I was highly motivated to declutter and pass along stuff we weren’t using. Bullet journal – I started with a meals list- that’s pretty much what my blog is but the everyday seemed good to journal. What I’m reading: I read so so so much in Dec and that took a nosedive in Jan. I read Nothing to See Here for bookclub and Watch Me Disappear. Both were OK, not fantastic. What I’m watching: We finished Man Hunt season 2 about the Georgia bombings. I’ve caught up on A Million Little Things. I think I’m off the Bachelorette/Bachelor train. I never finished the Clare/Tayshia season and didn’t start the Matt season either.
The inauguration was so so so important to me and I’m so happy to look forward. Next up: the Superbowl! I’m into the Superbowl for the snacks. And the commercials. And the halftime show. The cheeseball not only resembles a football but it also brings together the two delights of snacking: bacon and cheese.
Football Cheeseball Ingredients: 1 package cream cheese 1 onion 2 tablespoons bbq sauce 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce 1 teaspoon seasoning blend (Todd’s Dirt or Mrs. Dash or Italian Seasoning or 1/2 tsp Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt) 1/2 pound bacon 1/2 slice of provolone cheese serve with sturdy crackers, like wheat thins or pita chips
Directions: Caramelize the onion- slice and cook over low heat with a tablespoon of olive oil, for ~40 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat when they are soft and golden brown. Bring the cream cheese to room temperature. Using a mixer, mix up the cream cheese, caramelized onions, bbq sauce, worcestershire sauce, and seasoning blend.
Wrap in plastic wrap into a ball and refrigerate until serving, or at least 2 hours. Chop the bacon and pan fry until crisp. Then drain the drippings. When serving, unwrap the plastic from most of it and holding the plastic on one side, form into a football shape about 3/4 inch thick so you still have plastic to cover your hands while forming it. Flip onto a serving plate removing the plastic. Push the bacon crumbles onto the top and sides until completely covered. Slice the cheese into one long strip with short strips across to be the laces. Serve with crackers and enjoy!
If you’re making this one in advance, mix up the cheeseball and chill until serving with the bacon separate.
We looooved this. The flavors are fantastic and very chill – it would fit in well with other tailgate-ish foods! Hot tip: leftover cheeseball spread onto a turkey sandwich = delicious.
If the start of 2021 has you feeling crummy and seeking positive choices, this smoothie is perfect! It is DELICIOUS but also full of good stuff. I tend not to make many in the winter, so, enjoy this one!
This one is a meal – I’m going for protein & fiber and wanted to hit fruit and dairy here. This can be downgraded to a snack by skipping the yogurt, adding a bit more water, and serving as 4 smaller portions.
Chocolate Almond Smoothie Ingredients: (serves 2-3) 1 frozen banana (or 1 cup frozen cauliflower) 1 cup vanilla yogurt 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (or 1 tablespoon cocoa powder) 2 teaspoons ground flaxseed (optional) 1/4 teaspoon almond extract 1 – 1 1/2 cups almond milk 1/2 cup water a few ice cubes
Directions: Add frozen banana/cauliflower, yogurt, chocolate protein powder/cocoa powder, ground flaxseed, almond extract, milk, water, and ice to a blender.
Blend & enjoy!
I loved this! I was a bit heavy handed with the almond extract the first time – so use with caution and measure. It totally brings a unique flavor – especially if you don’t loooove protein powder. Mint extract would be a good alternative too! My fav protein powder is Amazing Grass brand, especially peanut butter or vanilla. Any chocolate-ish smoothie could definitely include/hide frozen greens. I almost did but I also wanted to keep it simple. Go for it – you won’t taste or see some frozen baby spinach in there!
My all-time fav smoothie is this PB&J Smoothie so if you got a new blender, this one is a winner and often the only one I make!